GLOBALGAP is a private sector body that sets voluntary standards for the certification of a wide range of agricultural products, including aquaculture commodities. Although GLOBALGAP membership now includes retailers, producers and associate members (with retailers and suppliers equally represented), GLOBALGAP was initiated in 1997 by a group of retailers belonging to the Euro-Retailer Produce Working Group (EUREP). Efforts were led by British retailers and supermarkets in continental Europe and were aimed at addressing consumer concerns towards food safety, environmental sustainability and labour welfare, in addition to reducing costs for producers by providing a single set of standards accepted by a wide range of retailers. For this reason, EUREP developed harmonized standards and procedures following so-called Good Agriculture Practices (GAP).
GLOBALGAP governance is by a Board, presently composed of eight members (four retailers and four suppliers) which sets the overall activity plan for the organization, although the day-to-day work is supported by a GLOBALGAP Secretariat based in Germany (c/o FoodPLUS). In addition, there are three other entities which are key to the implementation of the GLOBALGAP scheme:
The Technical and Standards Committee is constituted and elected by GLOBALGAP members who are said to have the necessary technical expertise to review, evaluate and approve the following: GLOBALGAP Standard documents, including the general regulations of the GLOBALGAP scheme; schemes willing to receive GLOBALGAP benchmarking; National Technical Working Group Interpretation Guidelines (see hereunder). The Technical and Standards Committee also provides technical support as required by accreditation authorities and acts as a consultative body on any technical matters of interest to GLOBALGAP. Depending on needs, the Technical and Standards Committee can also invite external technical expertise. It is expected that in 2007 the Technical and Standards Committee will be replaced by so-called Sector Committees, which were established by the GLOBALGAP Board in March 2006. Within this new structure, there will be Sector Committees for individual commodities and these will be represented into three higher level committees (All Crops, All Livestock and All Aquaculture committees), which will be represented into a single All Farm Committee. The Sector Committees will also be elected by GLOBALGAP members and are expected to work independently from the GLOBALGAP Board, although any standards and procedures developed by these committees will require approval by the Board.
The Certification Body Committee is composed of experts employed by GLOBALGAP-approved CBs and has the main function of linking GLOBALGAP with the approved CBs in order to benefit from experiences contributed by the CBs. The Certification Body Committee operates independently from the Technical Standard Committee or Sector Committees but it is supported, and its activities are facilitated by the GLOBALGAP Secretariat. The Certification Body Committee can propose revisions to the GLOBALGAP standards and procedures. Proposals are then to be reviewed by the Technical Standard Committee/Sector Committees.
The establishment of National Technical Workgroups represents an attempt by GLOBALGAP to liaise more closely with national experts with respect to legal and structural issues in order to better understand and address the challenges and needs of producers. These workgroups are in charge of developing Interpretation Guidelines that supply the necessary guidance on the above issues to GLOBALGAP. Guidelines are submitted to the Technical and Standards Committee/Sector Committees for revision and approval.
In addition, commodity specific working groups are also established to develop so called Species Modules and submit them to the Technical Standard Committee/Sector Committees for their consideration (see hereunder for more information on modules specific to the aquaculture sector).
GLOBALGAP members also established FoodPLUS, a non-profit limited company based in Germany defined as the "Global Body for GLOBALGAP Implementation" and, as such, responsible for facilitating GLOBALGAP activities, serving as the legal owner of the normative documents and hosting the GLOBALGAP Secretariat. Compliance to the GLOBALGAP standards is assessed by CBs that have received GLOBALGAP approval. Approval can be given only to bodies that have applied to an Accreditation Body for ISO Guide 65/EN 45011 with GLOBALGAP Scope. Accreditation bodies must be part of either the European cooperation for Accreditation (EA) multilateral agreement on Product Certification or members of the International Accreditation Forum, Inc. (IAF), which have been subject to a peer evaluation in the product certification field and have a positive recommendation in its report. Accreditation Bodies should also be signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between IFA/EA and FoodPLUS. CBs assess compliance using GLOBALGAP checklists and perform at least one announced inspection and at least 10 percent unannounced inspections per year.
GLOBALGAP Certification can be issued to individual farms or to farmers' groups. Farmers' groups willing to be certified must fulfil a set of requirements including conducting regular internal inspections. At present, GLOBALGAP is also developing guidance documents for smallholders to assist the process of group certification.
At present there are almost 100 bodies accredited to issue GLOBALGAP certificates, of which three are reported on the GLOBALGAP Web site as providing certification for aquaculture commodities. In addition, there are another six CBs awaiting accreditation to certify aquaculture producers, but which are allowed to issue non-accredited-GLOBALGAP certificates for aquaculture commodities and which are accepted by GLOBALGAP members. These nine CBs are based in Europe (6), Latin America (2) and New Zealand (1).
GLOBALGAP also set up a benchmarking process, through which standards from other certification schemes can be recognized as equivalent to the GLOBALGAP standards. Several countries have now developed and benchmarked their standards with GLOBALGAP giving origin to ChinaGAP, MexicoGAP and others.
GLOBALGAP standards are process (and not product) standards and address food chain operators only, therefore GLOBALGAP labels cannot be visible on the packaging of the product itself, although GLOBALGAP products are at least sometimes sold in separate recognizable areas within supermarkets. GLOBALGAP standards are available for primary producers and feed manufacturers. GLOBALGAP Chain of Custody also provides standards for all businesses gaining legal ownership of products produced by GLOBALGAP certified businesses.
GLOBALGAP standards cover a wide range of agricultural commodities ranging from fruit and vegetables to livestock. In 2003, GLOBALGAP initiated efforts for the certification of aquaculture through the GLOBALGAP Integrated Aquaculture Assurance (IAA). IAA members include major players in the food business such as Ahold, TESCO, Metro Group, McDonald's Europe, COOP Switzerland and others. IAA standards applicable to aquaculture businesses were issued for the first time in 2004 and have recently (March 2007) been revised, together with the overall GLOBALGAP standards' structure. Under the new structure there are All Farm Base standards which are relevant to the whole GLOBALGAP scheme. Aquaculture Base standards are specific to the aquaculture sector. In addition, the scheme also includes species-specific standards. So far the only such standards issued concern the farming of salmonids. However, working groups have been established and meetings are being held to also produce standards for shrimp, tilapia and Pangasius fish (tra and basa fish), in some cases with separate modules for different culture systems. Trial pilot audits of farms have also been planned to assess conformity to the draft shrimp standards in Indonesia and for the Pangasius standards in Viet Nam. GLOBALGAP standards for shrimp are expected to be launched by the end of 2007.41
GLOBALGAP also engaged in dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders to develop a set of Good Risk-based Agricultural Social Practices (GRASP), which would provide standards that address social responsibility issues more directly. In addition, discussions with NGOs have also identified the need to include social control points and compliance criteria, which, in the draft shrimp module, are now included as a Social Annex.
So far, the only GLOBALGAP certified aquaculture commodities are salmonids with an estimated one-fifth of global salmon production being certified or in the process of implementation. Interest to receive GLOBALGAP certification has been expressed by some trout farmers, although certificates have yet to be issued.42
www.sqfi.com and www.fmi.org
The Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program is a fully integrated food safety and quality management protocol developed by the SQFI, an originally independent entity located in Australia, which is now owned by the FMI. The FMI is a US-based organization conducting programmes in research education, industrial relations and public affairs on behalf of its 1 500 members, food retailers and wholesalers with combined annual sales of about US$340 billion. As such, the SQF Program is expected to be the programme used by these retailers to ensure the quality of the products they trade, although this is not always the case.
The SQF Program is still managed by the SQF Institute, which became a division within the FMI. The SQFI Technical Committee is the body in charge of reviewing the SQF standards and supporting documents. The committee is composed of technical experts drawn from the food industry (including members from major retailers such as Wal-Mart and Ahold, the US National Restaurants Association), academic institutions and others. The SQFI also expressed its intention to invite representatives from WHO, FAO and the US Institute of Food Technologists to participate in the Technical Committee. Technical sub-committees have also been established to provide guidance on specific sectors of the food industry (e.g. for egg production, for fresh produce, etc.).
Certification for compliance to SQF standards is conducted by CBs that have been licensed by the SQFI. At present there are eight licensed CBs listed on the SQFI Web site, based mainly in the United States and Australia, although some (e.g. SGS) operate in a wide range of countries worldwide. Only CBs that meet the requirements of ISO Guide 65 are eligible for being licensed by the SQF Program in addition to being compliant with the SQF General Requirements. Audits are conducted by SQF auditors who work for a licensed CB, have been trained in HACCP and SQF and have been registered by the SQFI as SQF auditors.
There are two sets of standards produced within the SQF Program, SQF 1000 for producers and SQF 2000 for processors, both of which are said to be based on the Codex Alimentarius HACCP Guidelines. The SQF standards (both SQF 1000 and SQF 2000) have been successfully benchmarked to the requirements of the Global Food Safety Initiative of CIES The Food Business, although this does not mean that they are accepted by all the individual CIES retailers, which are the only entities that can decide whether to accept a specific standard or not.
Both SQF 1000 and SQF 2000 standards are structured into a three-level system of compliance, with only businesses reaching Level 3 being authorized to use the SQF trademark. The SQF trademark can be used directly on the product generated from a SQF-certified business and, as such, the scheme targets consumers directly. In addition to these two sets of standards, there are also two voluntary modules for Responsible Social Practice (Employee Care) and Responsible Environmental Practice that are currently being developed in collaboration with WWF.43 A Food Defence voluntary module has also been drafted and it is to be released within 2007, while an Animal Welfare module is planned but has yet to be drafted. The completion of voluntary modules is not necessary to obtain SQF certification.
The SQF Program has been implemented by more than 5 000 businesses worldwide and for a wide range of food commodities ranging from fruit, vegetables, meat and aquaculture products.
According to the SQFI Web site, at present there are 80 SQF-certified companies involved with the aquaculture sector. Of these, 76 are certified for SQF 2000 standards (i.e. for processors) and only four are SQF 1000 producers, all of which are located in Viet Nam and produce mostly Pangasius fish, with one of these being a farmers' union. Personal communications with the SQF Institute44 however indicated that SQF 1000 certificates have also been issued to Australian salmon and to oyster farms and salmon farms in Canada and Chile, partially through the "Salmon of the Americas" project. SQF 1000 certification efforts appear to be ongoing also in Indonesia. SQF 2000-certified businesses (also according to the Web site) are located mainly in Australia (35), Republic of Korea (29), Viet Nam (5), Japan (5) and other countries (2). None of the aforementioned SQF-certified businesses obtained certification for a voluntary module.
Carrefour is the largest retailer in Europe and the second largest in the world, second only to Wal-Mart. Originally based in France, in 2005 Carrefour operated more than 12 000 stores located in 30 countries and declared sales of almost 100 billion (approximately US$130 billion). In 1985 Carrefour began producing its own-brand products and retailing them in addition to products under other brand names. In 1992 Carrefour initiated the development of so-called Carrefour Quality Lines (CQL), which are certification schemes through which products are identified on the basis of specific quality attributes and marketed with labels indicating their ownership to the scheme (consumer-oriented certification). CQL cover different aspects of the broad sustainability targets of Carrefour that include safety, environmental protection and the socio-economic development of the regions where Carrefour operates. In 1997 Carrefour also introduced the Carrefour Bio line for organic products, later replaced by the Carrefour Agir label, developed in harmony with the France AB organic government label. Products under the Carrefour organic label are certified by ECOCERT, an independent certification body. Gradually, Carrefour also began promoting fair-trade products and developed CQL based on fair-trade criteria.
Over the years the number of CQL increased rapidly and by 2005 Carrefour had a total of 363 CQL of which 70 were developed in 2005 alone.
Carrefour declares that CQL and the overall approach to sustainability are developed through dialogue and partnership with its stakeholders conducted at different levels; interactions with NGOs such as WWF have been reported.
In recent years several activities have been conducted for the responsible development of the fisheries sector. CQL promoting so-called "responsible trade" for shrimp produced in countries such as Brazil and Madagascar were developed.
Carrefour Thailand developed a CQL for shrimp in partnership with a vertically integrated company that currently supplies all the Carrefour stores of Thailand with fresh quality shrimp.45 The CQL Udang Harimau promoted by Carrefour Malaysia was developed to market Penaeus monodon grown in a fully integrated system and with complete absence of antibiotics and growth promoters.46
Fish quality lines that include criteria governing site selection, stocking density, water replacement and effluent testing and management were developed. In 2004, Carrefour initiated a Responsible Fishing approach that promotes sustainable fisheries management, starting with the launching of the Responsible Fishing Cod, followed by four additional Responsible Fishing products of frozen fillets (catfish, dab, redfish and halibut). Discussion is currently ongoing for the development of a CQL for Pangasius from Viet Nam.47
41 Garbutt. 2007. An introduction to EurepGAP: facilitating trade through safe and sustainable agriculture. Presentation given at the Expert Workshop on Guidelines on Aquaculture Certification, held in Bangkok from 27 to 30 March 2007.
42 Valeska Weymann, GLOBALGAP Technical Manager Tea, Coffee, Integrated Aquaculture Assurance, personal communication.
43 Kai Robertson, Director of Agriculture, WWF US, personal communication.
44 Paul Ryan, Director of SQFI, personal communication.
45 Carrefour Thailand Web site: www.carrefour.co.th
46 Carrefour Malaysia Web site: http://www.carrefour.com.my/cb_cql_udang.html
47 Anne-Laurence Huillery, Anova Foods, Viet Nam, personal communication.