With more than 4500 fruit and vegetable producers in The Netherlands and over 3100 fruit and vegetable producers in Belgium under GLOBALG.A.P. Certification, both countries have played a significant role in shaping GLOBALG.A.P. innovation. The GLOBALG.A.P. TOUR 2013 stop in Hoogstraten in Belgium produced several solutions to the pressing issues facing the market today and in the near future.

Jointly organized by the National Technical Working Groups (NTWG) of the Netherlands and Belgium, the one-day event targeted producers of primary crops and livestock products. The conference reconfirmed the high value and importance of GLOBALG.A.P. Certification for their businesses, despite the challenges they face when responding to new market demands, such as social responsibility, traceability, microbial contamination prevention, and sustainability.

Kristian Moeller, GLOBALG.A.P. Managing Director, said the TOUR 2013 stop felt like a homecoming, as “both, Belgium and The Netherlands, have always been a source of innovation for GLOBALG.A.P. through their committed and continued involvement.”

Delegates gathered at the Dutch-language conference breakout sessions to discuss various solutions for responding to the new requirements that their major customers are currently demanding.

The Dutch sector is ready to implement a pragmatic approach to social responsibility through GRASP, the GLOBALG.A.P. Risk Assessment on Social Practice add-on. The NTWG Belgium is actively searching for a strong national interpretation guideline that incorporates the high legal policies currently regulating the Belgian labor market.

In terms of traceability, delegates supported the need for strengthening supply chain integrity with GLOBALG.A.P. Chain of Custody audits. Delegates also agreed that responding to this major market demand will in turn bolster the market for certified produce.

Research from Ghent University presented scientific arguments and valuable direction for the upcoming revision process of the GLOBALG.A.P. Integrated Farm Assurance Standard with regards to microbial contamination in fruit and vegetables. Key aspects to take into account in order to avoid microbial contamination when handling products include:

  • Personal hygiene for workers
  • Absence of animals (pets, livestock and wildlife)
  • Attention for (contact with) soil, especially when fertilized with untreated manure
  • Water used for irrigation, washing and preparing plant protection products

Sustainability and animal welfare are the key drivers for developing add-ons for GLOBALG.A.P. Livestock Certification. The Dutch Retail Association CBL has developed the “Sustainable Meat Initiative” scheme, a vital and innovative add-on that defines sustainability criteria for the generic pork and poultry meat assortment for the Dutch market. CBL presented its sustainable meat initiative at the breakout session for livestock. Participants from all sectors praised the initiative, which will set to go live in 2014.

GLOBALG.A.P. thanks the National Technical Working Groups of Belgium and The Netherlands for initiating and organizing this successful conference.

View images of the event and download presentations here.