Argentina is one of the agricultural powerhouses of the world, its fertile land yielding everything from soybeans to grass-fed beef. The country therefore has a special obligation to ensure a safe supply chain, both to maintain its place in the global economy and to protect the health of consumers in Argentina and beyond.
GFSI is helping the Argentinian Ministry of Agroindustry (MINAGRO) fulfill that duty through a partnership launched in 2017. In two fruitful years, GFSI and the South Latin America Local Group have collaborated with MINAGRO on national food safety events and offered guidance on the "Argentinian Food, a Natural Choice" quality stamp programme.
Today on the GFSI Experts series, GFSI Board member Natalie Dyenson, MPH, Vice President, Food Safety & Quality, Dole Food Company, Inc., asks Andrés Murchison, Secretary of Food and Bioeconomy at MINAGRO, and Ana Vera, Co-Chair of the GFSI South Latin America Local Group, for an update on this productive public-private partnership. Watch their conversation on GFSI Youtube, or read the transcript below.
Natalie: Can you introduce yourself and tell us why you're here today?
Andrés Murchison: Sure. I'm Secretary of Food and Bioeconomy in the Agroindustry Ministry in Argentina, and I'm here participating in the GFSI Conference. We signed a letter of intent with GFSI in 2017, and we have a quality food stamp in Argentina. GFSI is doing the benchmarking with the quality food stamp to make sure we are aligning with international technical criteria.
Natalie: Ana, you are the Co-Chair of the GFSI Local Group in South Lat Am. Can you introduce yourself and your role?
Ana Vera: Yes, I am the food safety manager of La Anónima, which is a retail company in Argentina. We are working with other companies in Argentina for the GFSI Local Groups South Lat Am. This is our first PPP project, a public to private partnership with MINAGRO. The letter of intention was signed in November 2017 with the intention to work on developing the use of the Global Markets Programme in Argentina. In that context, we will use the Global Markets Programme in two ways. First of all, as a capacity building tool for GFSI to provide guidance on the Argentinian Quality Stamp certification programme. The checklist of the Global Markets Programme toolkits will serve as a base to build an incremental approach to align the quality stamp towards the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements 7.2. We are using the requirements, at least at the basic and intermediate levels, of the Global Markets Programme to do that. So we use the Global Markets Programme to provide a route towards accredited certification for companies in Argentina which lack or have less sophisticated food safety systems as a capacity building tool.
Natalie: Why is the partnership with GFSI so important for MINAGRO?
Andrés: It's important for MINAGRO and for Argentina because in Argentina, the backbone of our economy is food exports. We want to make sure that our food exports meet all the safety requirements along the whole supply chain for consumers, both within Argentina but also for our exports. So it's of paramount importance to us, being able to work with GFSI and adapting international technical standards to our food industry.
Natalie: What was your most pleasant surprise during your time at the GFSI Conference?
Andrés: I found out about the Global Markets Awards. There is an Argentine company that won the prize, which is Alfa Argentina. It's a big honour that an Argentine company should win the award. I was just talking to the businessman, and he's very pleased to be here representing Argentina. It's a small company, and he provides ingredients for food companies. That was the biggest surprise.
To learn more about Alfa Argentina, keep an eye out for our upcoming episode with Javier Torres, technical manager of this winning company. Follow #GFSIexperts on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and subscribe to GFSI News to make sure you do not miss an episode!