Science - June 29, 2011

Quality labels restrict access for food from developing countries

The requirements supermarkets impose on farmers and market gardeners in terms of food safety, sustainability and quality restrict access to Europe for food from developing countries.

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That is because quality systems require a level of organization and prosperity that developing countries lack.
This claim is made by the Wageningen economist Thomas Herzfeld and two German colleagues in an article in Food Policy. He is referring to private quality systems such as Global GAP (Good Agricultural Practice), that supermarkets impose on food producers around the world. The farmers and market gardeners participating in such quality systems are mainly to be found in Europe and countries that have good trading relations with Europe, says Herzfeld.
Businesses and farmers in developing countries find it difficult to meet these quality standards, which require tracking and tracing, food quality control and supply chain management - an infrastructure lacking in many developing countries. Herzfeld has observed a strong connection between a country's level of economic development and the number of farmers from that country participating in quality labels. Developing countries are not excluded, says the economist, but certification does make it difficult for new players in the food market.

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