The new initiative through the Horticulture Innovation Australia – using vegetable industry levy funds and funds from the Australian government – in partnership with horticulture organisation AUSVEG, will have a significant impact.
Horticulture Innovation Australia chief executive John Lloyd said vegetable exporters have to implement food safety standard GLOBALG.A.P. to access many key export markets in Asia and the Middle East.
Moreover, producers have to meet a local certification to operate in the domestic market which is the Freshcare Food Safety and Quality Standard that is being widely used. But that dual requirement is about to change.
“This new initiative will see the Freshcare standard benchmarked against the internationally recognised GLOBALG.A.P. standard, leading to increased efficiencies and cost savings for Australian fresh produce exporters,” Lloyd said.
“Australian produce has a strong international reputation for being fresh, clean and safe, and as the horticulture industry looks to increase its presence in overseas markets, it’s vital that this reputation is backed up by an internationally recognised certification.”
Freshcare executive officer Clare Hamilton-Bate said the on-farm assurance organisation will develop a supplement to its current Freshcare Food Safety and Quality Standard to achieve GLOBALG.A.P. recognition.
“Freshcare is the most widely adopted food safety standard in the Australian fresh produce sector, with over 5,000 participating horticulture businesses using the standard to meet domestic market requirements. However, the standard is not widely recognised in export markets. Benchmarking the Freshcare standard against GLOBALG.A.P. will allow these Australian producers to achieve regulatory and retailer compliance in export markets through an extension to their existing certification,” said Hamilton-Bate.
AUSVEG has welcomed the project and its potential to help Australian growers access the wealth of overseas markets.
“Evolving food safety demands could represent a barrier to trade for Australian vegetable and potato exports, and benchmarking Freshcare against the GLOBALG.A.P. standard will help keep overseas markets open to Australian growers,” AUSVEG CEO Simon Bolles said.
“We hope to see this project pay real dividends into the future – not just for our vegetable and potato growers, but for the entire horticulture sector.” The GLOBALG.A.P. benchmark process is expected to be completed by mid-2017.”