|The changes that will take place in the areas of food certification and safety, with the new reality brought by the pandemic of the corona, referred to “YX” Thomas Arapogiannis, Vice President of Agriculture TÜV HELLAS (TÜV NORD). He gave us his estimates on the evolution of production and consumer trends in organic products, while he gave his opinion on ways to improve the competitiveness of Greek exported products.|
Interview with Antonis Andronikakis
Technological reality in the post-COVID-19 era. What will change in the certifications?
It is now indisputable that the pandemic has brought with it a new reality, which will accompany us for many years, drastically changing both our daily lives and the rules of business. Obviously this will bring significant changes in the certification industry as well. The primary goal of all of us is to comply with the “new” reality, as it has been formed so far, but also based on the changes that follow.
I take telework as an example. In the pre-COVID-19 era, it was rather the exception and became the norm during the lockdown. I now take it for granted that, even with the help of technology, teleworking will be a key component of the new reality.
Respectively, we will see the number of cases where the certifications or part of them will be done remotely (remote audits), according to the rules of the holders of certification and accreditation forms (ESYD, DAkkS) in cases of companies where objectively it cannot to make an on-site inspection at the production sites. Remote Audits will be part of the industry’s best practices.
“To be safe, we need the harmonious cooperation of the state, the scientific community, certification bodies and food professionals.”
Do you foresee a greater shift of Greek producers to organic crops by 2021?
Certainly the pandemic has led many Greeks to change their diet, but also to treat their products differently. We have seen a sharp increase in supermarket sales and an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables at home.
We believe that to a large extent this trend will continue after the opening of operations and the market as a whole. Especially for organic crops, precisely because the cost factor is involved, a lot will depend on the pace of recovery of the Greek economy.
In other words, if we see a form of V-type recovery, we will expect a strong recovery in the demand for organic products. A trend that will obviously affect producers as well, who in turn will be called upon to meet increased demand.
What are the moves that Greek producers have to make in order for their products to be competitive in the Greek market and in exports? Does certification ultimately help with the higher selling price?
The quality of Greek products is undeniable. But that is not enough to stand out in such a competitive environment. Where Greek producers often lag behind international competition is the marketing and branding, which plays a key role in getting their products to market (on supermarket shelves and beyond) and ultimately at the consumer table. And we are not just talking about individual products and companies, but more broadly about the image of Greek agriculture abroad.
Here, too, the state can play a key role, exploiting European resources, boosting liquidity of the companies and producers themselves, and strengthening the national brand, in order to function as a “passport” worldwide. Especially for certification, it can – and should – play its role as a guarantor in order to guarantee the absorption of products from the market.
Beyond that, the issue of price depends on a number of factors related to the type of product, the target market, but also the marketing and branding that has taken place.
What about food safety in the corona age?
As with all coronary issues, we must first listen to the experts. We are not playing with health issues. As TÜV HELLAS (TÜV NORD), we rushed to meet the new challenges, taking all the necessary measures and taking a number of initiatives to inform and support our partners.
That is why we addressed, among other things, the President of EFET, who clarified the image we have so far in food safety, while giving a number of advice to minimize any risk. Here we must make it clear that the virus is not transmitted by food. Any problems that arise from infections and here we should pay maximum attention.
There are no magic ways to deal with it. To be safe, we need the harmonious cooperation of the state, the scientific community, certification bodies and food professionals so that, given the new data, we can proceed with compliance checks based on the “health protocols” that constitute legally authorized guidelines to ensure maximum operational readiness.
The map of organic – Exemption of training of new producers of organic agriculture and animal husbandry