The lack of awareness of global food safety and quality standards, insufficient understanding of the requirements for certification, high cost of certification, and low levels of market access information are among the typical challenges for agrifood industry enterprises in the Asian region. International private food standards such as Global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), ISO 22000, IFS and Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 are aimed at ensuring safety and are mandatory for the export of products. In addition, there are also product claims like Halal and organic that needs to be verified through inspection of compliance to standards. Producers and exporters of agrifood products in Asian countries need to know and understand the standards and requirements for certification of importing countries and the opportunities for their products in the European market. The mission will provide Asian participants with an opportunity to learn about the latest trends in the German agrifood industry as well as state-of-the-art food quality, safety, and inspection systems. Participants will also visit the Anuga Food Fair 2017, the world’s leading food and beverage fair for the retail trade and food service and catering markets, which covers all aspects of agrifood products.
OBJECTIVES OF THE MISSION
a. Learn about the latest trends in the EU and German agrifood markets, policy and institutional settings regulating the import/export of agrifood products, and key success factors for enhancing the market access of Asian products to those markets;
b. Expose participants to state-of-the-art food value chains, emerging eco-friendly agrifood products and packaging, future food themes, modem food safety and food traceability systems, etc., through observing the operations of relevant organizations; and
c. Strengthen food industry SMEs in member countries for promoting inclusive growth.
OBJECTIVES OF THE PARTICIPANTS
KAREN S. BAUTISTA
Executive Director, Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards
Department of Agriculture
a) To learn food value chain and food safety systems which start from the quality of soil and water; and the production of eco-friendly and organic products are related to nutrient cycling and conversion of farm wastes;
b) To study how certain farms/agri-business were able to sustain their operations, specifically the production of organic food, for several decades;
c) To learn the process of organic and global GAP standards development including the formulation of technical regulations and implementation of conformity assessment procedures such certification and accreditation;
d) To gain a wider perspective and knowledge on traceability system, packaging and labeling of fresh produce and processed food.
PROFILE OF PARTICIPANTS
Through the assistance of APO Program Officer, Mr. Sheikh Tanveer Hossain, there were 17 participants in this study mission from Cambodia, China RO, India, Indonesia, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Participants from the Philippines are the following:
a) Ms. Helen Del Rosario (President, Philippine Calamansi Association, Inc);
b) Mr. Anthony Rivera (Assistant Director, Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau);
c) Ms. Karen S. Bautista (Executive Director, Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards, Department of Agriculture)
SCOPE, CONTENT, METHODOLOGY
A combination of lectures, discussions and site visits was used to facilitate the conduct of study mission. Topics were delivered through a lecture by technically competent personnel.
In Munich, there were also visits to a biogas plant, the wholesale market “Großmarkthalle” and retail shops in Munich such as “Hofpfisterei” (a traditional stone-oven bread bakery, manufacturing and shop) and basic AG (a retail chain company for organic food products ). In Cologne, the Chamber for Agriculture, Research Centre Horticulture which has green houses and rain shelters for growing organic and conventional crops was visited by the group.
Anuga Fair (October 11, 2017)
During the Anuga Fair, delegates were grouped into four and tasked to answer the questionnaire based on the interview and questionnaire. The major observations are as follows: a) the fair was organized into ten trade shows with a special focus on emerging trends and innovations; b) the exhibitors put more emphasis on their certifications that they have obtained as an assurance to their products‟ quality, safety and traceability; and c) the new exhibitors‟ objective is to introduce their products while for regular exhibitors, the objective is to expand their markets and maintain good relationship with existing customers.
OUTCOMES AND EVALUATION
Karen S. Bautista
“I gained a wider perspective on the importance of transparency and integration along the supply chain to ensure the production, processing and trading of safe and quality food. There are public and private food safety certification systems that operators need to comply to combat food fraud. In addition to national and international regulations, operators should strive to have their farms, processing units and products certified in accordance to a set of standards. Based on what I have observed in the Anuga Fair, most of the companies are certified to several food safety systems and they took pride on this. In the future, it may be possible that compliance to standards and conformity assessment procedures like certification and accreditation will no longer be voluntary but it may become mandatory for food producers, processors and traders. In addition, support to farmers/producers/processors in trading their products should be in place.
Naturlands‟ operation became sustainable because of the marketing support that they have provided to their members as well as transparent relationship with their long-term clients. In the visit to the Research Center on Horticulture, I observed that rain shelters and greenhouses have simple design but it is applicable in the tropics. Organically grown tomatoes are grown in greenhouses while conventionally grown berries are grown in rain shelters. Since food safety starts from the soil, I observed that they put significance on soil health by favoring organic production practices in terms of fertilization and pest management over conventionally grown practices. Very competent personnel from Global G.A.P. and IFOAM Organics International explained standards and certification system including relevant technical regulations that will have effects on the development of the organic agriculture sector and promotion of GAP worldwide.
In terms of the relevance of topics in the program, I found that the lectures on organic guarantee systems and GAP are the most relevant and contributed to my knowledge while the lecture on DEG financing is the least relevant considering that Philippines is not included in their area of operation in the ASEAN region. In terms of time management, the allocated time for open forum after the lecture on the future of food safety regulations was very limited. For the farm visit, in addition to the biogas plant, there should be a visit in an organic vegetable farm or organic livestock and poultry farm. I think an additional two hours should be allotted to discuss how to prevent fraudulent practices along the food chain.
In general, the whole study mission was well-organized by APO through Mr. Shaikh Tanveer Hossain and the Organic Services through Mr. Gerald Herrmann. The project objectives were met. My objectives for participating in this study mission were 95% met.”
RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS
a) General recommendations to APO and APO member countries related to the project outcome
In the next study mission to be organized, in additional to GAP and organic, it is suggested that a lecture/discussion on Halal food should be considered because of the expanding market for Halal certified products. For the visits, it is better if a representative organic vegetable farm or organic livestock and poultry farm as well as a processing facility could be visited to see the entire supply chain (from farm to market shelf). Aside from visits to retail shops selling exclusive organic products, a visit could also be carried out in a regular supermarket selling both organic and conventional products to observe handling and retailing practices and how commingling is avoided. In the ASEAN region, this is more relevant considering that retail markets are selling both types of products in one store. Moreover, there should be additional time allotted for open forum on the future of food safety regulations.
b) Recommendations on potential action steps to be taken by the Philippine NPO (DAP), Philippine Government and organization
In terms of increasing the number of Filipino farmers certified to GAP (which is quite few compared to Thailand), on the part of the Philippine government, there is a need to develop incentive systems to encourage more farmers to produce safe and quality food. Considering also that there is no premium price for GAP certified products, it is necessary to intensify IEC activities not only for the producers but also for the retailers and consumers. If the demand will increase for GAP certified produce, the market price could increase. At present, the GAP certifying body is the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) however, it is not yet ISO 17065 accredited it has to align its standard to Global G.A.P. and become one of its partners. In terms of organic agriculture, the global market is growing annually and there is a price premium for organic products.
The Philippines has the largest organic area in the ASEAN region and plays an important role in the export of organic products. However, to ensure that production demand is met, there is a need to increase organic crop productivity while ensuring optimum soil and water quality. Training on the use of software on monitoring organic integrity and food safety could be considered by DAP in the future. This is crucial to enable regulatory agencies as well as certification bodies to carry out surveillance audits on organic operators and food producers/processors/traders.
In addition, an info-seminar on the certification requirements for GAP, Halal, Organic and food safety systems (of U.S., E.U., Japan and Middle East) could also be carried out to assist exporters of agricultural products.
On the part of my organization (Department of Agriculture), we will continue to do R&D projects on improving the quality of organic fertilizers and increasing yield of crops under organic production systems. Growing organic crops in greenhouses will be further promoted (as seen in the Research Center on Horticulture that we have visited). As one of the implementing agencies of the National Organic Agriculture Program, the institution (Bureau of Soils and Water Management) will apply as a member of the IFOAM Organics International to participate actively in the discussions on various concerns of the organic sector.
For more details about the program, you may e-mail APO grantee Ms. Karen Bautista at karensbautista917 @ gmail.com