Maintaining those standards, once the product reaches North America, is essential, said Julio Ortuzar, Chilean consultant with Weston, Fla.-based Fresh Results LLC.
“There are two things with food safety and Chile,” he said. “Most of the packing facilities we get product from are all certified with good agricultural practices and procedures, so there’s a lot of concern with regard to that, and we use the ones that are all certified. That’s one thing. We also take care of the product we bring in. We’re trying to comply with all traceability issues. Taking those concerns into account is what we’re focusing on.”
Years of dedication to safety protocols have paid dividends for Chileans, said Mike Bowe, vice president of Dave’s Specialty Imports Inc., Coral Springs, Fla.
“For years, they were going through all the bells and whistles with PrimusLabs and Davis Labs, getting their fields inspected, staying current and compliant,” he said. “They’ve been doing it for years and have always been ahead of the game. Once they start, they’re like soldiers. They keep going.”
Josh Leichter, Newark, Del.-based vice president of the East Coast and grape category director with the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Oppenheimer Group, agreed.
“I think it’s just the standardized food-safety protocols that are now widely in place in Chile,” Leichter said. “We work primarily with GlobalGAP or Primus as our main bodies. I think food safety is something that’s firmly established in Chile. The United Kingdom is now one of their more important markets, and five years ago, the U.K. was probably ahead of the United States in their requirements. I’d say the Chilean suppliers are fully up to speed on any food-safety requirements and have had those programs in place for some time.”