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Peppers-Plus ahead of the game

RIO RICO, AZ— Peppers-Plus is using Global Trade Item Number stickers on its Bell peppers, according to Bobby Astengo, who is the managing partner of Peppers Plus LLC. Peppers-Plus prints GTIN and PLU codes on the same stickers.

Bobby-Astengo-Peppers-PlusBobby Astengo“It’s a unique identifier,” Astengo said. Information on the GTIN indicates, for example, that “it’s a red Bell, it’s grown in a greenhouse and that the brand is registered.” A retailer will know from the GTIN that the pepper was shipped from Peppers-Plus.

He expects retailers will eventually be requiring GTIN codes. “We’ve been ready for some time. Peppers-Plus initiated this three years ago. This is on the vanguard of how we’ll be required to do business.” GTIN codes are an important factor in food traceability efforts.

Astengo said this February will see a “normal picking pattern” for Mexican Bell peppers. This comes on the heels of a flush of Bells in January following a shortage in the early winter deal.

“We are a medium-sized operation, which certainly helps during high-peak harvests. Sometimes size does matter. When things are long, not being a big shipper has its advantages. I tend to feel comfortable with our level. We’re not overwhelmed when there’s a lot of production.”

That said, he admitted that when f.o.b. prices were high in December, “I wished we’d had twice as much volume.”

But, he said, “our focus is on quality and manageable volume.”