The trend toward more transparency is permeating all areas of life, including the food industry. A few years ago, people began wanting more information about the food they were eating. As a result, many farmers began telling consumers that they were following sustainable agricultural practices.
These days, people are not just requesting “tell me” – they are saying “show me.” So farmers are looking for ways to make good on their promises to consumers: that is, for food to be produced safely and sustainably. This new type of transparency is largely fueled by the digital era. Social networks, for example, encourage direct exchange among farmers, consumers and retailers. This quick and immediate form of communication will continue to grow in the future, which also means that farmers could very quickly become victims of direct criticism or even prejudice.
One way in which farmers can actively respond to demands for more transparency is by having their produce certified. Certification is the key to creating more transparency, and it helps farmers document their agricultural practices. With certificates, they can prove the high quality of their products in a credible way, making them stand out positively for retailers and consumers. This strengthens the business relations of certified farmers, given that distributors and retailers also benefit from the reliably high level of quality, safety and traceability of the products. Certified farmers also have a significant competitive edge over their uncertified competitors. Certification is, therefore, not only the key to more transparency; it also increases a farm’s profitability as quality-certified products sell better.
Standard for Orientation
Voluntary certifications such as GLOBALG.A.P. support these processes. GLOBALG.A.P. is a standard for the safe and sustainable production of food. It facilitates cooperation within global partnerships in the food industry, which means that individual participants in the overall supply chain do not have to monitor their products themselves. Instead, they can rely on standards that are applied in a controlled, careful manner. Wasteful duplication along the supply chain is thus prevented because everyone is speaking the same language.
The GLOBALG.A.P. criteria consist of 240 questions that are relevant to food production, including questions about environmental protection, traceability and food safety. Among other things, our standards demand more efficient production. These standards also improve business results, contribute to saving vital resources, and promote agricultural practices that create the best possible conditions for future generations. Every farm with GLOBALG.A.P. certification is registered in our database. We are currently working hard to make sure that all farmers worldwide are able to link up to local and global supply chains.
‘G.A.P.’ stands for ‘Good Agricultural Practice’. GLOBALG.A.P. sets standards for the global certification of agricultural produce. It is one of the world’s leading quality assurance systems in agriculture, with a focus on food safety. In addition, it has a transparent integrity system to ensure that its standards are implemented consistently all over the world. GLOBALG.A.P. develops customized solutions for the certification and assessment of farms and the development of training programs. To date, around 155,000 primary producers have been certified in 119 countries. GLOBALG.A.P.’s requirements focus primarily on product safety and environmental sustainability as well as on the health, safety and the well-being of humans and animals.
Since the beginning, GLOBALG.A.P. has also cooperated very closely with Bayer and other leading agricultural companies. In 2014, for example, GLOBALG.A.P. and Bayer’s Food Chain Partnership initiative joined forces to organize four expert training courses in Central America, Africa, Europe and Asia Pacific in order to further improve the competence of Bayer’s partners. These courses ensure that farms follow our quality assurance guidelines. Together, we designed the new service program BayGAP Tool, which centers on three core areas: intensive group training, individual cultivation advice and quality assurance. Through these activities, we laid the foundations for helping farms, whether large or small, acquire good agricultural practices and cater to the requirements of local customers.
Developing Future Plans
But that is just one aspect of our work. In the future, GLOBALG.A.P. intends to supply even more resources to help support agricultural businesses. This means more training and a better infrastructure. We also want to create even more incentives for businesses to adopt these practices. Those who use truly sustainable production methods should be clearly distinguished from their uncertified competitors because those who practice responsible farming should also reap the rewards, including economic benefits. It is important, therefore, that we create a market awareness for safe agricultural products. Retailers and consumers alike will recognize and value products with such guaranteed high quality. This will be an easy way of separating the wheat from the chaff.
This approach is not just a means to an end; it is a necessity. Farmers face huge challenges when it comes to meeting ever-increasing market demands, so certificates can offer a helpful and intelligent way of displaying the safety of their products. By ensuring transparency, certified farmers can guarantee the integrity of their products and secure the trust of their customers. This will increase their potential to generate higher revenue in the long term and contribute to a stronger and more stable supply chain across the entire food industry.
Written by Dr. Kristian Möller, CEO of the quality assurance system GLOBALG.A.P.
Farmers are looking for ways to make good on their promises to consumers. That is, for food to be produced safely and sustainably.