A great discussion thread from the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group asks how a grower can achieve the desired/required food safety certification while staying competitive for the market. It is a global quandry for producers, yet in GlobalGAP, perhaps there is an answer. Here is how one member put it:
The demand of fresh produces globalgap certified is almost always an A must but a low price is as important. Now considering that the certification adds a huge cost to the producers how can this be compatible with demands of low price?
I source fruit and vegetable from Italy for export, I am proud to work with some great producers in possess of globalgap and others certifications but there so many good ones that cannot afford the certification because their price will then be too expensive for the market. Sometimes is hard to combine demand and offer, I asked many peoples in Berlin at the Fruit Logistica, all agreed but few had clear what the solution could be.
Here is how one member of the group responded:
Globalgap could be a tool for cost saving process for some growers. Usually, growers can benefit from the procedures and have a cost-saver process, like reduce pesticide usage, improve fertilizers handling, prevention of mistakes which could result in product withdraw - so looking on a long shot, Globalgap should be help growers.
Some growers are organized without having the certification, and then this question comes. As the certification IS a must to assure you are a grower with responsibility on Good practices, it needs to be part of your price formation. You cost reduction will come from the efficiency of your process flow, based on you Manufacturing/Agricultural practices. I know that in theory, everything is nice and the world is currently harder than this, but the "soul" of Globalgap should be on the terms of efficiency and problems (that incurre cost) prevention.
In most cases the implementation of GlobalGAP brings savings to farmers (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.). We have experienced this on our own fruit farm as well as in the application of a company scheme called Migros Sano. Less fertilizers means less pruning time, better fruit quality and good harvests every year. Migros has started a GAP programme in 1972 an has handed in all documentation for the start of GlobalGAP. It is not the GlobalGAP certification that ins expensive, it is the change to good practices. I consider this as an investment and not as a simple cost. Standards like GlobalGAP are becoming more and more the ticket to market. Our customers expect safe food, produced under good conditions, that’s all; and GlobalGAP is one of the answers to that request.
On the other hand there are a lot of certifications and for each certificate there is an audit while some parts are overlapping!!
A friend of me once made a excell file putting all the certification manuals together and found out that one audit could be enough to see if a producer was global gap, nature's choice, fruitnet, ipm, ........
And indeed sometimes when weather conditions etc are favorable Global Gap can even save costs. It are just the so many audits by different auditing companies that can make life more difficult and expensive for the producer.
Indeed the market is getting more competitive and prices are under pressure. But without Global Gap the produce will have far less chance to reach the shelves of the supermarket store.
TK: More comments followed, and as you can tell, the group has a decidedly international flavor. The various food safety "schemes" employed by British retailers were discussed. All in all, the thread points to the pressing need for harmonization of food safety certifications, both on a national and international basis. By the way, if you are not a member of the LinkedIn group, I will be glad to welcome you as a member.