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Worldwide support builds for GlobalGAP

Certification body GlobalGAP is expected to reveal this week that "considerable progress" has been made during the past year in terms of increasing international awareness and employment of its good agricultural practice scheme.

At the 9th annual GlobalGAP Conference, which is set to take place in Cologne on 15-17 October, the organisation's board of industry leaders will confirm that support for the internationally accepted framework is continuing to grow worldwide.

Representatives from Kenya, Mexico, Japan and Chile, among others, will be present to explain how they have established their own independent monitoring systems with the assistance of GlobalGAP.

Following recent enlargement of the European Union, meanwhile, new member states such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary have also taken significant steps following reports of initial progress made at the GlobalGAP Conference in Prague two years ago.

"GlobalGAP now represents over 90,000 certified producers and producer groups in 85 countries," confirmed chairman Nigel Garbutt ahead of the Cologne meeting. "What is particularly significant is the achievements of small scale producers who realise that it is vital they adopt the required levels of discipline in record keeping and food safety in order to maximise their potential for export. We will be showcasing some of the best practices in small holder certification worldwide and tools which can help them achieve compliance."

While fresh produce continues to be the largest representative sector, other industries ranging across aquaculture, livestock and combinable crops are adding their weight and beginning to expand their membership, Mr Garbutt added.

"One of the key developments seen during the past year has been the increased interest in the scheme seen in the North America, says GlobalGAP secretary Kristian Moeller.

"Following several food safety scares, the US Food and Drug Administration is encouraging companies to be more pro-active in establishing a greater level of traceability as part of their food discipline. The Canadian Horticultural Council is following the same route."

Emphasising this development, GlobalGAP recently welcomed the highly respected east coast multiple group Wegmans as its first US-based retail member.

At this week's conference event, Jorge Hernandez of US Food Service, one of the leading suppliers to the North American food service sector, will deliver a keynote presentation.

"There is more and more interest from large marketing organisations and even?total representative industries from across the Atlantic," added Dr Moeller. "Increasingly they are accepting that GlobalGAP is a soundly based international concept which, like its members and products, has no boundaries when it comes to food safety."

More than 300 delegates from 25 countries are expected to attend the GlobalGAP Conference.