New Zealand is number one in the world for certification by the international quality standards organisation GlobalG.A.P because its apple and kiwifruit industries are 100 per cent certified, says CEO Kristian Moeller.
Kristian Moeller, CEO of GlobalG.A.P says New Zealand is a success story for the international certification organisation.
“New Zealand’s record is a real success story, which we could not have dreamed of when we started in 1997.”
Today, worldwide 155,000 producers in 118 countries belong to GlobalG.A.P, up from 106,008 in 2010. South Africa is close behind New Zealand for apple certification, followed by Italy, Netherlands, Chile and France, all with more than 60 per cent of producers certified. The United States has just over 30 per cent certification while Brazil, Argentina and Poland are between 10 and 20 per cent certified.
When it comes to kiwifruit, Chile and Italy lag behind New Zealand for certification.
Kristian says the organisation offers much more than certification. “The more incentives we can provide to producers around the world to adopt safer and more sustainable practices for all their products, the better this world will become.”
Global G.A.P’s objective is safe, sustainable agriculture worldwide and, says Kristian, that’s vital if the world is to feed its rapidly growing population, which is predicted to reach 9.6 billion people by 2015.
“The world needs an international trade in food but it needs to be affordable and we must have safe, sustainably produced food. To meet our (world’s) needs, food production must increase by 70 per cent.”
That increase may come at a cost including the depletion of natural resources. By 2030 it is predicted more than 50 per cent of the world population will be affected by a scarcity of water and 50 per cent of the world will need more food.
Reducing food waste will go a long way to help feed a growing world as will empowering more women, especially in developing countries, to be involved in food production, he believes.
Gathering data for certification will become increasingly “pen free” in future as technology enables the real time capture of information from rainfall to spray and fertiliser applications, making it easier for famers to comply with standards.
Farmers, says Kristian, have always worked the land with a long-term view. “They want to be sure the next generations have the same chance to live and make a living off the land. They preserve the land. They don’t want to go out of business because they poison their customers or lose their licence to operate.”
However, consumers need reassurance that what they are buying is safe to eat and produced sustainably by farmers and growers who are committed to workers’ health, safety and welfare.
Many of those demands are coming from what Kristian calls the “Youth Generation” of people moving to the cities, born in the digital age and demanding of change. Already 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in cities, increasing the disconnect between people and where their food comes from.
These consumers are very demanding when it comes to safety, environmental and employment issues around food and producers who fail to live up to their high standards are ‘punished’ by consumer boycotts.
Global G.A.P’s beginnings go back to EUREPGAP, an initiative by retailers belonging to the Euro-Retailer Produce Working Group to set produce standards.
British retailers working with supermarkets in continental Europe become aware of consumers’ growing concerns regarding product safety, environmental impact and the health, safety and welfare of workers and animals. Their solution was to harmonise their own standards and procedures to develop an independent certification system for Good Agricultural Practice (G.A.P.).
Over the next 10 years the process spread throughout the continent and beyond. Driven by the impacts of globalisation, a growing number of producers and retailers around the globe joined in, gaining the European organisation global significance.
To reflect both its global reach and its goal of becoming the leading international G.A.P.
standard, EurepGAP changed its name to GlobalG.A.P. in 2007.
Today GlobalG.A.P. says it is the world’s leading farm assurance programme, translating consumer requirements into good agricultural practice in a rapidly growing list of countries.
Kristian Moeller, CEO of Global G.A.P, was among the keynote speakers at the Horticultural New Zealand Conference in Rotorua in July.