GFSI Local Groups lead the local implementation of global strategy, with a vision to improve food safety for consumers no matter where in the world they live. As Chair of the GFSI Japan Local Group, I am honoured to head up this group of dedicated food industry experts. Further, I’m pleased to see how far we’ve come since our group was launched back in 2012 as the first GFSI Local Group.
Through its geographical isolation, Japan has developed a unique culture, including its unique food culture. Language is no exception to this. However, language was also been a challenge for us when it comes to localising and disseminating the work of GFSI. For this reason, we kicked off our local efforts by producing a Japanese translation of the GFSI technical documents in order to better understand and communicate on “What is GFSI?” here in Japan.
I’d like to share with you a brief overview of some of our recent achievements. If you are interested in learning more, I’d encourage you to access our annual reports for the GFSI Japan Local Groups. [Annual Reports 2012, 2013]
In order to raise awareness of GFSI in Japan, we have held numerous events including the Food Safety Day as well as workshops across the country. We’ve paired this with many visits with administrative agencies and organisations in order to heighten the public-private dialogue and enable collaborations with them.
Our challenge was to disseminate GFSI outside of Tokyo. In order to achieve this, GFSI workshops were held in seven cities throughout Japan. We were pleased with the success of these events, which gathered an annual total of 773 participants.
For the practical application of GFSI, we a conducted Global Markets Pilot projects in as many as 212 companies to determine the benefits of the programme for Japanese businesses. The Japanese food industry is constituted of a majority of small and medium sized businesses; so the programme is especially relevant for this market. We needed to ascertain if the Global Markets Programme would be easy to implement for SMEs.
In addition, a matching process was conducted between the Global Markets Programme and the factory audit checklist of the Food Communication Project, a project developed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to be used by small and medium-sized suppliers. Ms. Yokota of MAFF made a presentation on the result of the matching process in 2014 Global Food Safety Conference held in Anaheim.
So what’s next for the GFSI Japan Local Group? This year,we are reviewing the activities of our steering committee and each working group. We have decided to adopt different approaches to further disseminate GFSI activities and to encourage third-party certification of GFSI-recognised schemes. We are making a strategic reform as shown in the graph below.
Since its foundation, the GFSI Japan Local Group has targeted suppliers utilising the GFSI approach. However, in order to motivate suppliers, we found it necessary to persistently develop relationships with buyers (retailers, manufacturers, etc.), the central government, the media and certification bodies.
More specifically, the new Food Chain Task Force develops activities under direct instruction of the chairman to encourage retailers to employ the Global Markets Programme. We understand the importance of encouraging retailers and manufacturers to employ the Global Markets Programme amongst their suppliers and share audit results between them.
At the same time, we will leverage the media including exhibitions, magazines, and journals to share information about GFSI across different industries outside of the food industry.
Furthermore, we will work collaboratively with the central government in order to facilitate the harmonisation of the numerous domestic food safety standards with GFSI-recognised schemes.
In addition, we will ask certification bodies to support the Global Markets Programme by ensuring the quality and quantity of assessors, while marketing the Global Markets Programme tools.
We have fostered our unique food culture with careful and sensitive hygiene control. Amidst the globalisation of food procurement, we believe it is important for Japan to proceed with global harmonisation for food safety management systems (FSMS) while preserving our unique food culture.
Setting an interim goal of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the GFSI Japan Local Group aims to pioneer the global harmonisation of Japan’s domestic food industries.