A practical manual for producers and exporters from Asia. Regulations, standards and certification for agricultural exports

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Growing demand for food safety certification

European supermarket chains are increasingly demanding that their suppliers be certified against a private food safety standard such as GLOBALGAP, BRC and IFS. These chains account for over 60 percent of fresh produce retail sales in many European countries. In addition, each individual retail company may impose even stronger quality requirements on its suppliers so as to differentiate its products from that of its competitors.

Likewise in the Asian market, some minimum certification on food safety is required by local supermarket chains or local agroprocessing businesses and these customers will ask for extra quality requirements to purchase the producer's product. Both in Asia and in the international market, farmers and food producers will be increasingly required to be certified against a food safety standard.

This chapter deals with different types of voluntary standards for food safety and good production practices. It starts with standards for good agricultural practices (GAP). These standards are relevant to farmers as they cover the agricultural production process, from inputs to the farmgate. It presents GLOBALGAP, a voluntary standard required by many supermarket chains in Europe, and the national and regional GAP standards currently operating in Asia. The chapter goes on to describe standards for good manufacturing practices (GMP). These standards mainly apply to firms that process agricultural products to produce foods.

4.1 Good agricultural practices (GAP)

4.1.1 Introduction to GAP

What are good agricultural practices (GAP)?

Good agricultural practices are "practices that address environmental, economic and social sustainabilfty for on-farm processes, and result in safe and quality food and non-food agricultural products" (FAO 2003).

What are GAP codes, standards and regulations?

Good agricultural practices (GAP) codes, standards and regulations are guidelines which have been developed in recent years by the food industry, producers' organizations, governments and NGOs, aiming to codify agricultural practices at farm level for a range of commodities.

GLOBALGAP inspector checking
produce destined for Europe

Why do GAP codes, standards and regulations exist?

These GAP codes, programmes or standards exist because of growing concerns about food quality and safely worldwide. Their purpose varies from fulfilment of trade and government regulatory requirements, in particular with regard to food safely and quality, to more specific requirements of specially or niche markets. Their objectives range from ensuring safely and quality of produce in the food chain; capturing new market advantages by modifying supply chain governance; improving natural resources use, workers' health and working conditions to creating new market opportunities for farmers and exporters in developing countries.

What are the main benefits and challenges?

The benefits of GAP codes, standards and regulations are numerous, including food quality and safety improvement; facilitation of market access and reduction in non-compliance risks regarding permitted pesticides, MRLs and other contamination hazards. The main challenges related to GAP implementation include an increase in production costs, especially record keeping, residue testing and certification, and inadequate access to information and support services.

More information on GAP:

FAO GAP: www.fao.org/prods/GAP/index_en.htm

4.1.2 Regional and national GAPs GLOBALG.A.P.

On 7 September 2007, EurepGAP changed its name to GLOBALGAP to reflect its increasingly global scope. GLOBALGAP is a private sector body that sets voluntary certification standards and procedures for good agricultural practices. It was originally created by a group of European supermarket chains. GLOBALGAP aims to increase consumers' confidence in food safety by developing good agricultural practices which must be adopted by producers. The focus of GLOBALGAP is on food safety and traceability, although it also includes some requirements on worker safety, health and welfare, and conservation of environment. GLOBALGAP is a prefarmgate standard, which means that the certificate covers the process of the certified product from before the seed is planted until it leaves the farm. It should be borne in mind that GLOBALGAP is a purely private standard.

GLOBALGAP has so far developed GAP standards for fruits and vegetables, combinable crops, flowers and ornamental plants, green coffee, tea, pigs, poultry, cattle and sheep, dairy and aquaculture (salmon). Other product scopes are under development (check their Web site).

Main requirements?

The GLOBALGAP standard requires that producers establish a complete control and monitoring system. Products are registered and can be traced back to the specific farm unit where they were grown. GLOBALGAP rules are relatively flexible about field practices such as soil fumigation and fertilizer usage. There are strict regulations about pesticide storage and pesticide residue limits. In addition, it is important to record and justify how the product was produced, so detailed records must be kept about farm practices.

How to get certified?

GLOBALGAP does not issue the certificates itself but has authorized registered certification bodies to do this. Firstly, it is recommended to read the GLOBALGAP general regulations and control points of the respective product scope before contacting a certification body which will accomplish the certification procedure. Farmers who want to get certified to GLOBALGAP have to take certain costs into account. Generally they have to pay for registration, inspection and certification.

Both individual producers and groups of producers can apply for certification, the cost of which depends on the certification agency chosen and the time spent on the inspection.

In addition to the certification fee charged by the certification agency, the producer must also pay an annual producer registration fee to maintain the certification.

Main opportunities and constraints

To get the GLOBALGAP certification, the producer, or group of producers, needs a complete administrative system to keep track of all farm activities.

This requires a sufficient administrative and financial capacity; consequently it is easier for large-scale producers to meet the requirements.

The GLOBALGAP-certified producer may also have an advantage when selling products to retailers that require GLOBALGAP certification. As of September 2007, GLOBALGAP had 35 retail and food-service members (34 in Europe and one in Japan).

There is no special price premium or product label associated with GLOBALGAP, as it is a minimum standard focused on business-to-business relations.

More information on GLOBALG.A.P.


Stakeholder Liaison



e-mail: info@foodplus.org Tel.: +49 221 579 9325

GLOBALG.A.P. contact person in the People's Republic of China:

Project Manager China

Tel.: +86 133 2113 8571

Certification bodies that are accredited by GLOBALG.A.P. in Asian countries:

www.globalgap.org/fruit/cbs.htm?countryid=211&continentid=16 ASEANGAP

ASEANGAP was developed by the ASEAN Secretariat (with member country representatives) and launched in 2006 as a standard for good agricultural practices during the production, harvesting and post-harvest handling of fresh fruits and vegetables in the ASEAN region. The purpose of ASEANGAP is to enhance the harmonization of national GAP programmes within the ASEAN region, enhance fruit and vegetable safety for consumers, sustainability of natural resources and facilitate the trade of fruits and vegetables regionally and internationally.

What are the main requirements?

ASEANGAP consists of four modules covering:

Each module can be used alone or in combination with other modules. This enables progressive implementation of ASEANGAP, module by module, and based on individual country priorities.

How to get certified?

Certification is carried out by national authorities in each of the ASEAN countries.

Main opportunities and constraints

Since ASEANGAP is intended to enhance harmonization of product standards and facilitate trade there are great opportunities for certified producers to enhance their exports of fresh fruits and vegetables to other ASEAN countries. For the less developed ASEAN countries there is an opportunity to use ASEANGAP as a benchmark in developing national GAPs, as the ASEANGAP includes implementation guidelines and training materials as well as a code of recommended practices. Member countries can benchmark their country GAP programmes against ASEANGAP to achieve harmonization.

The main constraint of ASEANGAP is that it only covers fresh fruits and vegetables. It does not cover products that present a high risk to food safety such as fresh cuts. It is still a very new standard in a regional and international context. ASEANGAP is not a standard for certification of organic products or GMO-free products.

More information on ASEANGAP

ASEANGAP: www.aphnet.org/gap/ASEANgap.htm Malaysia - SALM certification

Malaysia has developed a number of quality assurance programmes for primary producers with a number of voluntary farm certification schemes including the fresh fruit and vegetable sector certification (SALM); livestock certification (SALT); fisheries and aquaculture certification (SPLAM) and organic sector certification (SOM). The implementation of GAP standards in Malaysia started with the introduction of the Farm Accreditation Scheme of Malaysia (SALM) in 2002 by the Department of Agriculture (DOA). SALM is a programme designed to accredit farms that adopt Good agricultural practices, are operated in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, and yield quality products that are safe for consumption.

Three major aspects are evaluated under SALM, namely:

What are the main requirements?

Under these three aspects 21 elements are evaluated, of which 17 types of records must be maintained. Information available from SALM-certified farms include land use, soil type, source and quality of irrigation water, soil preparation including soil fumigation, fertilizer programmes, harvesting techniques and field transport, post-harvest treatment and packaging, and farm waste disposal.

How to get certified?

The farmer must first register with the Department of Agriculture and undergo a farm visit by a team of auditors, whose report is subject to approval by the Secretariat. A second farm visit results in the preparation of a technical report for the Farm Accreditation Committee. On acceptance, the farm is provided with a GAP certificate and approval to affix the SALM logo. Farms then undergo verification of farm practices and sequential residue analyses of farm produce and water.

Main opportunities and constraints

SALM-registered farms are reported to get priority in the local market because they qualify as preferred suppliers and offer a degree of differentiation. However no premiums are offered to products from certified farms. SALM-registered farms are eligible to qualify for the "Malaysia Best" logo, a branding exercise administered by the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA). On the export front, through a bilateral agreement with Singapore, consignments receive preferential treatment.

However as the scheme is managed, audited and certified by the Department of Agriculture, there is a lack of transparency. The SALM scheme has also not received recognition of equivalence with other countries' or private standards, although benchmarking to GLOBALGAP, initiated in September 2007, will change this situation.

More information on Malaysia - SALM Thailand - Q GAP and ThaiGAP certification

In response to quality and safety requirements of both export and domestic markets, the Government of Thailand has made significant steps towards the development, introduction and implementation of quality and safety "Q" certification programmes. A "Q" scheme has been developed to certify each step of food production safety with a "Q" logo used for all agricultural products (crops, livestock and fisheries). The Department of Agriculture grants several certificates including Q GAP, Q Packing house and Q Shop, among others. A Quality Management System: Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) for on-farm production was developed by modifying concepts of international standards with 3 levels of certification. Level 1 is pesticide-residue safe; Level 2 is pesticide-residue safe and pest free, and level 3 is pesticide-residue safe, pest free and with premium quality.

What are the main requirements?

The standard defines eight control points, their requirements and how to inspect them. These control points are: water source, cultivation site, use of agricultural hazardous substances, product storage and on-site transportation, data records, production for disease and pest-free products, management of quality agricultural production and harvesting and post-harvest handling. The first five control points are required for Level 1; control points 1 to 6 for Level 2, and all eight control points for Level 3 certification.

How to get certified?

The scheme is voluntary and managed by the government. The National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS) is the accreditation body, while the Department of Agriculture provides certification and implementation functions. Farmers submit their application form and relevant documents to their local Office of Agricultural Research and Development (OARD) which carries out the inspection. The farmer is informed of the results of the inspection and is given a number of days to detail how any corrective action will be taken. The GAP Inspection Form is then submitted to the OARD board, which reviews and presents it to the Sub-committee on GAP certification. This sub-committee compiles and submits the information to the Committee on Food Safety Management which then issues the GAP certificate.

Main opportunities and constraints

Currently, certification against Q GAP is exempted from any fees. The scheme is both audited and certified by the Department of Agriculture. The system and certification mark is not internationally benchmarked. In order to create a standard that may be benchmarked internationally, the Thai Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Thai Government has started work on developing ThaiGAP. At the time of publication of this manual, collaboration between Thai stakeholders and GLOBALGAP had only just started on ThaiGAP. It was planned that ThaiGAP would obtain benchmarking with GLOBALGAP by the end of 2008.

More information on Thailand - Q GAP and ThaiGAP Japan - JGAP certification

The Japan Good Agricultural Initiative (JGAI) was formed by a group of Japanese producers in April 2005, to establish a system that ensures the safety of agricultural produce by establishing one common standard of good agricultural practices in Japan - JGAP. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture announced in June 2006 that JGAP would become the national standard, meaning that several private retailers and the current ministry GAP scheme will come under the same umbrella. It was decided to benchmark JGAP against GLOBALGAP in order to strengthen the recognition of the scheme by retailers within the country and internationally. GLOBALGAP benchmarking was completed in August 2007.

What are the main requirements?

The JGAP scheme is divided into four chapters:

How to get certified?

JGAP is managed by a steering committee which has ultimate authority to guide the policy of JGAP. The steering committee has a technical committee which develops the standards and general regulations and a council, which represents the wider stakeholder group of suppliers and retailers. Certification is carried out by qualified third-party private sector auditors.

Main opportunities and constraints

JGAP provides opportunities to Japanese farmers because it reflects the specific features of Japanese agriculture, in terms of the scale of farming, environmental and legal issues, institutions and language. The challenges of the JGAP lie in implementing the GAP among small farmers at lower cost, organizing the farmers and harmonization of all the individual retailer GAP schemes.

JGAP has been benchmarked to GLOBALGAP with a new Approved Modified Check List (AMCL) benchmarking procedure, where only the Critical Control Check Points are benchmarked. A JGAP logo exists, but will only be used for business-to-business transactions and not at final point of sale.

More information on Japan - JGAP

JGAP: www.jgai.jp/ The People's Republic of China - Green Food and ChinaGAP certifications

The Chinese Government has established a state agroproduct and food certification system in the food chain and has developed two GAP programmes to introduce certification in farming. These two GAP programmes are intended to stimulate agriculture, reduce the risks linked to food safety, coordinate various sectors of the supply chain of agricultural products and stimulate the development of international good agricultural practice standards and relevant certification and accreditation activities. The Ministry of Agriculture has developed the Green Food standard to develop good agricultural practices for the Chinese national market whereas ChinaGAP is being developed jointly by the Chinese Government and GLOBALGAP to supply international markets. A memorandum of understanding was signed with GLOBALGAP in April 2006 to initiate the formal benchmarking procedure.

What are the main requirements?

The ChinaGAP certification will take a two-tier approach. The Second Class certification farmers need only to comply with the "major musts" based on the GLOBALGAP system, while the First Class certification requires compliance with all the major and minor musts. The First Class ChinaGAP certification is envisaged to be compatible with the GLOBALGAP certification.

How to get certified?

The Chinese regulations on Certification and Accreditation were published in November 2003, and the State Council has authorized the Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) to manage, administer and authorize the certification process and train inspectors, testing bodies and auditors. CNCA published the ChinaGAP codes, rules and training documents and started with initial pilot certification and accreditation activities in 18 provinces of the People's Republic of China as of mid 2007.

Main opportunities and constraints

ChinaGAP is an opportunity for Chinese farmers to improve the quality and safety of their agricultural production. Since the requirements for First Class certification are very high, only a limited number of Chinese farmers will be able to become certified. At the time of publication of this manual, 217 enterprises were operating in accordance with ChinaGAP and 116 enterprises had already been certified for ChinaGAP. Benchmarking with GLOBALGAP was also due to become effective in the near future.

A coffee plantation may require environmental, social, and food safety certification

More information on Green Food and ChinaGAP

Green Food Development Center of the Ministry of Agriculture: www.greenfood.org.cn

Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA): www.cnca.gov.cn India - IndiaGAP

At the time of publication of this manual, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority of India had initiated the development of an IndiaGAP standard. One of the objectives of the standard is to gain benchmarked recognition with GLOBALGAP so as to open the European market to Indian agricultural producers.

More information on IndiaGAP

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, New Delhi

Email: headq@apeda.com Tel: +91 11 2651 3204

4.2. Good manufacturing practice certification

4.2.1. International Food Standard (IFS) certification

In 2002 German retailers developed a common standard called International Food Standard (IFS) for food safety management systems. In 2003 French food retailers (and wholesalers) joined the IFS Working Group and contributed to the development of the current version of the normative document. The IFS standard has been designed as a uniform tool to ensure food safety and to monitor the quality level of producers of retailer-branded food products. The standard can apply for all steps of the processing of foods subsequent to their agricultural production.

What are the main requirements?

The IFS programme allows for two levels of certification:

The "foundation level criteria" include 230 items, whereas the "higher level criteria" include 60 additional criteria. Furthermore, 46 recommendations are formulated for companies who wish to demonstrate "best practices" in the sector. For each criterion of the standard, a certain number of points are assigned according to the compliance and to the criterion level. The certificate (foundation or higher level) is delivered depending on the number of points gained.

How to get certified?

IFS certification is site-specific meaning that the audit scope is limited to the site where the audit takes place, but all types of products produced in this site must be taken into account. The re-evaluation frequency is once a year. For a "higher level" certification that has already been confirmed twice and does not concern seasonal products, the re-evaluation frequency is reduced to 18 months. The certification costs vary by certification body, but the average is US$2 000 for 1.5 days for an on-site audit.

Opportunities and constraints

IFS certification is required by almost all German and French retailers and by retailers in a number of other European countries. At present, retailers demand IFS certification only from the suppliers of private-label food products.

The number of IFS-certified suppliers in Asia is still low, but since the use of the standard in Europe is increasing and the number of IFS-accredited certifying bodies in Asia is increasing, there are great opportunities for exporters to strengthen their competitiveness at the European market by becoming certified under the IFS certification scheme.

More information on IFS



e-mail: info@food-care.info Tel.: +49 (0) 30 726 250 74,

4.2.2. Safe Quality Food (SQF) codes

Safe Quality Food (SQF) codes were established by the Western Australian Department of Agriculture in 1996. In 2003 the worldwide ownership of the standards was transferred to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in the United States of America and at present SQF codes are managed under the SQF Institute established under FMI.

What are the main requirements?

The SQF programme is a fully integrated voluntary food safety and quality management protocol designed for the food industry with application at all links in the food supply chain. The codes are based on Codex Alimentarius HACCP Guidelines. Two certification programmes have been established for different types of food product suppliers:

Each programme allows for three levels of certification:

To implement Level 2, producers must comply with Level 1 plus additional requirements. Likewise to implement Level 3, producers must comply with Level 2 plus additional requirements. For each level, compliance with the provisions is obligatory without any tolerance margin.

How to get certified?

Only registered SQF auditors working with licensed and accredited certification bodies can certify against SQF codes. Once Level 1 has been achieved, a supplier will be placed into the SQF register which is made available on the SQF Web site.

Main opportunities and constraints

SQF certification provides many benefits and value to suppliers. By complying to one internationally recognized voluntary standard, SQF reduces the need to undergo multiple audits to different standards, allowing suppliers to shift resources from complying with multiple audits for a range of certification schemes. SQF is a business-to-business scheme, mainly designed for primary producers selling to food manufacturers, so there is no product label.

More information on SQF

The SQF Institute:


Tel.: +1 202 220 0635

Asia Pacific SQF certifier:

Silliker Global Certification Services Pty Ltd,


Tel.: +61 (0)3 8878 3204 Fax: +61 (0)3 8878 3210

4.2.3. British Retail Consortium standard (BRC)

The BRC standard is a private voluntary standard developed by the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The standard has been set up in order to protect consumers' health and to enable British retailers to comply with the United Kingdom Food Safety Act. Therefore, the BRC standard can be considered as a tool that provides retailers with a common basis for the audit of their suppliers of food products. The use of this standard requires the adoption and implementation of HACCP principles, the setting up of a documented and effective quality management system as well as the control of working environment, products, processes and personnel. It can be applied by any food supplier company.

The application of the BRC Standard requires certification by a third party. Certified products are differentiated in the market as they carry the BRC logo.

More information on the BRC

BRC standards:


4.2.4. ISO 22000

The ISO 22000 standard has been developed to facilitate the setting up of food safety management systems. It incorporates the HACCP principles as well as traceability measures. ISO 22000 has been elaborated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) along with the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the European Union (CIAA), the International Hotel and Restaurant Association (IH&RA), the CIES Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and the World Food Safety Organization (WFSO). Therefore, ISO 22000 harmonizes the requirements of national food safety management systems worldwide on a non-governmental, voluntary basis. Any stakeholder of the food chain (crop producers, feed producers, food producers, processors, wholesalers, retailers) can apply for this standard. ISO 22000 can be used independently or in combination with other management system standards. The ISO logo cannot be used on products.

More information on ISO 22000 Standards

International Organization for Standardization:


4.2.5 National support organizations and certification bodies for GAP and GMP in Asia


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