Angelo Lazo (AL) and Marco Villegas (MV) about Tour Stop GLOBALG.A.P. Mexico 2022
Are you ready? The next GlobalG.A.P. Mexico 2022 Tour Stop, to be held on October 20 in the city of Guadalajara, is just around the corner. In an interesting interview for Veggies from Mexico, Marco Villegas and Angelo Lazo share with us why this is an event not to be missed that can help you take your business operations to the next level and expand your commercial network.
Marco Villegas is currently Key Account Manager Mexico for GlobalG.A.P. From where he promotes cooperation agreements with various stakeholders linked to the agricultural and food sector in the country. Marco has extensive experience in training, consulting, certification and accreditation for quality and safety systems in the food industry and has collaborated with various public and private organizations. For more than 15 years he has worked with certification programs approved by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), as well as agricultural production and sustainability.
Dr. Angelo Lazo Galdos is the regional representative for Latin America and key account manager for GLOBALG.A.P. He has more than 15 years of experience in Good Agricultural Practices and quality assurance programs in the supply chain has been a coordinator of certification bodies, project consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and PROMPERÚ, as well as for the National Institute of Quality (INACAL) and the German National Metrology Institute (PTB).
1. Could you share with us a little bit about what GLOBALG.A.P. is and its trajectory in the fresh produce industry in Mexico? (R: MV)
GLOBALG.A.P. is an initiative and brand that develops intelligent farm assurance solutions created by FoodPLUS GmbH in Cologne, Germany, with the cooperation of growers, retailers, and other stakeholders from across the global food industry. Among these solutions, we developed a series of Good Agricultural Practices certification standards focused on promoting safe and socially and environmentally responsible production practices. Our most widely used flagship standard is Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA), which applies to fruit and vegetables, aquaculture, floriculture, and livestock, among others. This standard also forms the basis for the GGN label, which is aimed at the end consumer and aims to maintain transparency and confidence in certified responsible production throughout the supply chain.
GLOBALG.A.P. began its journey as EUREPGAP in 1997 and just over two decades later, more than 200,000 growers in 134 countries are GLOBALG.A.P. certified. Today, we have almost 150 GLOBALG.A.P. team members around the world, focused on the mission of spreading responsible production practices to ensure that future generations have access to safe food.
In Mexico, the relationship with the GLOBALG.A.P. secretariat has been very close since 2005, when the first audits were conducted on the avocado crop and later the approval of the MexicoG.A.P. scheme was achieved; since then, several workshops have been held in various regions of the country, as well as projects in certification programs to bring more agricultural companies to the certification standards, this work has been developed over the years in coordination with both the private initiative and the public sector to strengthen exports and market diversification. To date, there are close to 2,500 growers certified in more than 60 crops (mainly fruits and vegetables), such as berries, avocados, mangos, Persian lemons, asparagus, table grapes, and tomatoes, among others; In addition, today there is a great capacity installed locally to support the certification processes, among which we can mention the National Technical Working Group Mexico (NTWG), in addition to about 13 registered instructors, more than 14 approved and accredited Certification Bodies and a network of collaboration with local members GLOBALG. A.P. local members, including laboratories, consulting companies, crop protection industry companies, training centers, technological innovation, and data and information management companies, with whom we work in coordination and actively in the establishment of local plans and strategies to support the development, consolidation, and growth of the Mexican agri-food sector.
2. How important is it for agricultural companies to have a third-party certification such as GLOBALG.A.P.? (R: AL)
Third-party certification guarantees the independence of the audits carried out by the certification bodies on agricultural companies, which in turn generates confidence and credibility in the evaluation process for those buyers who demand GLOBALG.A.P. certification. The GLOBALG.A.P. certificate is evidence that agricultural companies meet the expectations of the markets to which they wish to sell products, which in turn allows them to improve production management.
3. How has the evolution and competitiveness of Mexico’s fresh produce industry in other markets been during the last 10 years? (R: MV)
The agricultural sector in Mexico has been a very dynamic sector for many years and we have been able to confirm this in this period of the pandemic, despite the adverse conditions that have arisen in terms of logistics, distribution, border closures, and even the constant rise in agricultural inputs caused by the effects of war, the agri-food sector remains one of the most successful in its integration with North America since 70% of the vegetables and 50% of the fruits imported by the USA come from Mexico. It is also the leading vegetable grower in the Latin American region and ranks second in fruit cultivation, only behind Brazil. Agricultural activities also play an essential role in the country’s economy, with a share in the gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.5% and a steady flow of foreign direct investment (FDI), which in the first quarter of 2022 exceeded US$22 million. It is worth noting that Mexico is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world; together with favorable climatic conditions, as well as a large territory, are factors that make it a grower of a wide variety of crops. Despite this and the complex scenario currently being experienced in the global and domestic market, companies in the agri-food sector have several challenges to consider, such as the following:
Growth in demand due to population increase
It is estimated that, due to the world population increase despite the deaths caused by the pandemic, by 2050 the global population will need 70% more food to meet the demand. It is estimated that Mexico will have 134.36 million inhabitants by 2026, a significant increase of just over 8 million from the current population of almost 129 million. With the increase in population and the growing demand for food, both agricultural growers and companies that distribute or process food globally and, in our country, will have to evolve and improve their processes to respond to a constantly growing demand.
Implementing more environmentally friendly processes
Because the global agricultural sector is responsible for the emission of 1/3 of the total greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change, many people worldwide are choosing to consume more natural, healthy, and sustainable products, seeking to reduce the consumption of animal protein. Therefore, growers and industry should start to orient food production from a more sustainable perspective (e.g., avoid cutting down forests, make more efficient use of natural resources such as soil and water, and take advantage of renewable energies such as sunlight, hydroelectric, and wind power, instead of continuing to use only fossil fuels). Although adopting these measures may mean significant investments in the supply chain, in the long term these actions will enable the sector to adapt to today’s performance, productivity, and sustainability requirements and contribute to reducing the effects of climate change.
Integrating technology to increase competitiveness and sustainability
One of the great challenges for companies linked to the agri-food sector is to incorporate technology that will enable them to respond to the demands of their consumers and the market and to comply with new standards to achieve greater sustainability in their processes and make more efficient use of resources. The integration of systems to obtain, manage and analyze data for decision-making in agribusiness operations will be essential to adopt more sustainable approaches, optimize resources and increase food production yields.
Labor rights of agricultural workers
Worker health, safety, welfare; labor exploitation; and human rights are increasingly important to the media, consumers, and civil society.
Supply chain risks are therefore an issue of great concern to brand owners, retailers, and suppliers. Voluntary social standards are therefore a practical resource for growers, for verification with integrity that facilitates transparency for the buyer.
4. Could you share with us what is the GLOBALG.A.P. Tour Stop? (R: AL)
The GLOBALG.A.P. TOUR is about engaging key stakeholders around the world. We seek to link these participants under our common goal of generating incentives in the private sector for growers worldwide to adopt safe and sustainable agricultural practices. Thus, since 2009 the GLOBALG.A.P. TOUR stops have reached thousands of participants in more than 45 countries on 6 continents. It is a place to learn and share the experience of experts, companies, and markets on very relevant topics on food safety, labor responsibility and welfare, and environmental care.
5. What is the main objective and who is the target audience? (R: MV)
The GLOBALG.A.P. TOUR MEXICO 2022 is an event that takes place in coordination with Holland House Mexico as a Bilateral Chamber of Commerce between the Netherlands and Mexico, intending to make a business prosper, expand the commercial network, and access international markets through the GLOBALG.A.P. certification.
Who attends the TOUR?
– Representatives of agri-food companies
– Growers, packers, traders, exporters, and importers.
– Chambers, Councils, and Associations of growers and exporters of the agri-food and agro-industrial sector.
– Food retailers, both supermarkets and consumer representatives, both national and international
– Public and cooperation agencies
– Development aid organizations
– Agricultural traders
– Experts, consulting firms, and Registered Instructors (trainers)
– Certification bodies, auditors, and accreditation agencies
– Representatives of National Technical Working Groups (NTWGs) GLOBALG.A.P.
6. What are the main benefits that attendees get from participating in the event? (R: MV)
This event is an excellent opportunity to discover how to take the business to the next level. Together with our GLOBALG.A.P. experts, innovative solutions will be presented to help all stakeholders in the agri-food sector in Mexico to take their business operations to the next level and expand their commercial network.
In addition, this event becomes an excellent opportunity for experts and key industry players to share their experiences with growers on how to:
– Improve good agricultural practices and guide their commitment to the environment, safety, product quality, and farm worker welfare.
– Optimize activities and efficient management of agricultural production sites
– Export products to international markets
– Accessing and developing local and international supply chains
– Drive retail sales by meeting consumer demands
– Be part of the global movement towards safe, reliable, and responsible production.
7. How will the overall program be organized? (R: MV)
On this occasion, we have developed a program that will allow attendees to link the relevance of consumption habits and the changes we continue to see in consumer demand for agricultural products both locally and globally, for which we have designed a panel with experts who will share their approach to supply chains; Another panel will share, from the perspective of agricultural companies, their experiences in implementing sustainability requirements, environmental protection, social practices, ecosystem recovery, efficient use of resources such as water, soil, and energy, which are essential to remaining competitive in the sector and for which our standards and solutions have become a benchmark.
We will also be launching our flagship IFA standard version 6 and our experts will share the path we have taken over the last two years on the revision of rules, standards, and the GLOBALG.A.P. system. It is worth mentioning that during the entire revision process it became clear that it is not simply a new version of the IFA standard but much more than that, and the result was the development of our new vision: smart farm assurance solutions. Although we launched the IFA v6 standard in April of this year, we decided to take advantage of this Tour Stop Mexico to share with the Mexican agricultural sector this launch for the implementation of our products and services.
On the other hand, and from this perspective, we have invited experts to share with us in another panel, the use of new technologies in the sector, the development, and integration of innovations, information and data management for decision-making in agricultural operations, and the agriculture 4.0 approach.
Finally, we have invited representatives of growers, packers, and exporters to share with us their short-, medium- and long-term vision, as well as the actions, plans, and programs they have designed to address the aforementioned issues; with this, we seek to continue collaborating locally to develop the supply chains that will enable us to meet the challenge of supplying safe, reliable and sustainable food and to work together to “Build the farm of the future.
8. In your experience, what have been the main business opportunities for attendees? (R: AL)
The Tour Stop is a unique opportunity to interact with companies and organizations that have a common interest in demanding, adapting, evaluating, and disseminating good agricultural practices. In addition, they will be able to update themselves on the latest trends in the markets and the changes in the demands and requirements of the standard. It is also a great opportunity to learn from other production experiences that lead to gaining access to new markets and new customers.
9. What are the main trends that you consider will impact the fresh produce industry in the coming years? (R: AL)
On the one hand, the growing interest in compliance with sustainability-related requirements, and how they impact social, economic, and environmental aspects. On the other hand, changes in food safety requirements. As well as the role that technological development and digitalization will have in generating efficient production processes in the difficult and adverse situation we are facing.
10. Anything else you would like to add? (R: AL)
Yes, of course, in the Tour Stop we will also present the solutions that allow us to know how to produce and access the North American market, both for farm and packaging assurance, allowing growers to align their practices to the requirements of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and other specific trends of this market.