More than 30% of the state’s avocado acreage has been certified by the California Avocado Commission’s good agricultural practices program since its launch in 2011, and the trade group is pushing for more.
At the commission’s third series of workshops in December, Colista Yates, senior manager for global quality assurance at Dallas-based Brinker International — owner of Chili’s and Maggiano’s restaurants — told growers about Brinker’s expectation that approved suppliers be GAP-certified.
“It was enlightening … to hear first-hand what a major buyer like Chili’s expects in terms of our food safety practices,” Somis, Calif., grower and commission board member Art Bliss said in a news release.
“Many growers find as they go through the GAP certification process that they just need to document their current practices,” said Ken Melban, California Avocado Commission director of issues management.
Growers certified under the program would likely also fulfill requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act draft rule, according to the Irvine-based commission.
More than 600 California groves have gone through the certification, and to date $100,000 has been paid out to certified avocado growers for their audit costs. Information on the program and the incentive rebate is online.