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It is my great pleasure to be invited to write this blog post on behalf of the GFSI Global Markets Primary Production technical working group to announce the launch of the Global Markets Programme for Primary Production. This second edition of Global Markets Primary has been designed to address food safety requirements pertaining to the production, harvest and packing of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and edible fungi.

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The GFSI Global Markets Programme is designed to assist companies who have underdeveloped food safety systems. It is a systematic continuous improvement process that companies can follow to establish, and achieve recognition for, effective food safety systems. Further general information on the program is available here.

“I strongly believe this second edition of the Global Markets Programme for Primary Production is a dramatic improvement over the first edition released in 2013.”

The Global Markets Programme for Primary Production utilizes the same structure as the highly successful Global Markets Programme for Food Manufacturing, the second edition of which was launched in 2015. Each Global Markets Programme scope consists of a toolkit having three key elements: 1) a checklist document outlining food safety requirements at basic and intermediate levels, 2) a protocol that describes how the Global Markets Programme is used, and 3) guidance on training and food safety competencies required for practitioners who are responsible for implementing the food safety requirements.

The Global Markets Toolkit for Primary Production is available for download here.

In developing this revision to the Global Markets Programme for Primary Production, we sought advice from stakeholders on how to improve the programme and improve its utility for suppliers and buyers.  We also drew many lessons from the revision of the Global Markets Manufacturing Programme, which underwent extensive modifications prior to the release of its second edition. One key improvement adopted for the second edition of the Global Markets Primary Production Programme is the inclusion of user guidance for the various requirements identified in the checklist.  This user guidance explains the checklist requirements in language that is understandable by the producer, indicates in general terms what producers must do to comply with the expectations in the checklist, and describes what assessors will look for when evaluating compliance against the checklist.  We also included a glossary of terms to further explain unfamiliar concepts for end users of the program.

I strongly believe this second edition of the Global Markets Programme for Primary Production is a dramatic improvement over the first edition released in 2013.

I anticipate suppliers and buyers of primary produce throughout the global food system will extensively adopt this program.  It is particularly suited to support the development of suppliers in less developed markets, and I look forward to working with stakeholders to implement the programme globally.

I would be remiss if I did not say thank you to all of the people who were instrumental in developing the second edition of the Global Markets Programme for Primary Production. The technical working group was first convened in Dusseldorf in September 2015, and over the course of five face-to-face meetings (and numerous conference calls) developed the toolkit. This required a considerable time investment by each of the working group members, and also was dependent upon release time from our respective employers to complete this work.  I would also like to acknowledge the efforts and support of the GFSI team and GFSI Board liaisons that worked with the TWG during this process.  Their support and insights were essential.  Finally, I’d like to recognize the tremendous efforts of Irene Beers for providing support for the TWG chair (Ciaran Conway), organizing the work of the TWG, and keeping us on track during the past 18 months.

On a personal note, I am extremely proud of the work by GFSI and the technical working group members to establish and adapt the Global Markets Programme to meet the needs of suppliers who are seeking to develop their food safety systems. The Global Markets Programmes for Food Manufacturing and Primary Production are tools that I use on a continuous basis in my work to support the development of the food and agriculture sectors in emerging economies. The program is uniquely suited to help companies who wish to improve their food safety systems in order to enhance their access to higher-value markets, whether those markets are in high-value sectors in their own countries, or in regional or distant trade networks with buyers who require more formal food safety certification. The Global Markets Programme is a highly successful contribution by GFSI to the global agrifood system, and I look forward to its expanded use.

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This post was written and contributed by:

Leslie D. Bourquin
Professor and Food Safety Specialist
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Michigan State University

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