Best Practices for Cold Shipping Labels and Traceability of Fresh Produce Through the Supply Chain

In the fresh produce industry, there are countless requirements for labeling cases, pallets and consumer units for cold chain shipping. This is due to the ever-growing need for accurate and up-to-date tracking information for fresh produce. Traceability through cold warehouse labels is vital to the fresh produce industry as it allows all trading partners to follow the products as they move from the field to a retail store or food service operator. This helps protect consumers and is incredibly important when a produce shipment needs to be withdrawn from the supply chain.

Cold shipping labels most often have some or all of the following information on them:

  • Price identification
  • Category management
  • Inventory tracking
  • Variety
  • Brand
  • Country of origin
  • Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)
  • Batch or lot number
  • A barcode

The exact content of a label often depends on the application, target market requirements and desired optional data. But at a minimum, waxy corrugated labels will contain a barcode and a portion that is readable to workers or those who come in contact with the shipment. In addition to this labeling information, established standards should be applied to properly track fresh produce.

Best Practices for Tracing Fresh Produce

Basic principles and best practices have been put into place by the industry to follow GS1’s Global Traceability Standard (GTS). The following are the globally accepted best practices for effectively implementing traceability when shipping cold food. For a more detailed look at the full list of standards, you can read GSI’s Traceability for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Implementation Guide.

  1. Begin by determining what needs to be traced (the “traceable item”). Traceable items include a logistic unit (bin or container), a product or traded item in the form of a case, carton or consumer item, or a shipment/movement of a product or trade item. An agreement must be established between all trading partners about what the traceable item is so everyone involved in the transaction is properly tracking the same thing.
  2. Ensure that each traceable item is uniquely identified and that each affected supply chain partner is informed.
  3. If a product is being traced, it must be assigned a unique GS1 GTIN and a batch or lot assignment at a minimum.
  4. When or if a logistic unit is reconfigured, a new, unique identification code must be assigned. But keep in mind that a linkage needs to be maintained between the new logistic unit and the original input.
  5. Each and every supply chain partner must systematically link the physical flow of produce with the flow of information about them. All traceable item identification numbers need to be shared on any related documents.
  6. A traceability partner refers to a grower, packer or repacker, distributor or trader, retail store and food service operator. Each of these traceability partners needs to be able to identify the supplier and end customer of all traceable items. The easiest way to ensure that all information is shared is by having each supply chain partner collect, record and share traceability information.
  7. All supply chain parties require internal and external traceability. Internal traceability refers to proprietary data and processes a company uses within its own operations in order to execute traceability. External traceability refers to the processes that occur between trading partners and the information that is exchanged in order to execute traceability.
  8. If you have assets that need to be traced forward or backward, like returnable pallets or other forms of cold shipping supplies, they’ll need to be uniquely identified.
  9. Cold warehouse labels that display the traceable item’s identification number must remain on the packaging until the item is consumed or destroyed by the next trading partner. This principle is extremely important and applies even when the item is part of a larger packaging hierarchy. The only way to ensure properly traceable fresh produce is to make sure the refrigerated food labels actually stay in place during the entire supply chain.

Maintain Peace Of Mind With CHILL AT Refrigerated Food Labels

Corrugated materials make up the bulk of all packaging materials in the U.S. Corrugate is known for its durable, versatile, sustainable, customizable and cost-effective construction. In fact, corrugate is the leading type of packaging for produce. Because of this, waxy corrugated labels need to be specially engineered for all types of conditions – from intense heat to extreme cold.

LLT Labels has teamed up with Mactac to create the new CHILL AT label line. These labels are the perfect solution for waxy corrugate due to their superior tack and peel properties. CHILL AT labels adhere quickly, easily and most importantly, stay put throughout the entire supply chain process. They were uniquely designed to meet the needs of varying application conditions and temperatures, remaining physically and aesthetically intact in temperatures ranging from -65℉ to 150℉. CHILL AT labels are even able to withstand the extreme demands of shipping, including packing, transportation, storage and repeated product handling.

Learn More About CHILL AT Labels

CHILL AT cold shipping labels offer integrity and reliability for labeling and tracing fresh produce throughout the supply chain. Have a question or need more information about CHILL AT refrigerated food labels? Reach out to our helpful customer service team today.