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					  Implementation of UNECE Standards for
       Agricultural Products in Trade

    Seminar on the Implementation of UNECE Standards in Trade
                 Vilnius, Lithuania, 29 October 2004
                            Tom Heilandt
         United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

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Trading in meat is expensive and difficult

 A Non-standard raw material

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A complicated commodity

  • Meat is a complicated commodity
  • Many different actors are involved
  • Many rules covering meat trade from the stable to
    the table

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Many rules

  • There are international rules: Codex Alimentarius, OIE,
    UNECE, ISO, World Customs Organizations etc.
  • There are implementations of international rules and
    proprietary rules in countries and regional country
    groupings (e.g. European Union)
  • There are private rules: Global food safety initiative,
  • There are WTO rules about how rules should be made in
    order to ensure fair trade

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A long distribution chain…
   with cow
                                cattle market

                        transport           transport

               abattoirs                                abattoirs

                                factory           packing plant

              butcher           supermarket              restaurant


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All are customers

  •   Households
  •   Point of sale
  •   Processors
  •   Abattoirs
  •   Farmers

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“Administrative” Rules

  • Rules about customs procedures
  • Rules about transport and handling
  • Rules about labelling and accompanying
  • Etc.

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“Quality rules” for the process and the

  • The expected properties as broadly defined in
    ISO 9000:2000: “The totality of features and
    characteristics of a product, process or service that
    bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied
  • "excellence" – something that distinguishes from
    similar objects that justifies demand.

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Expected properties: Generic quality level of
food products

  • Absence of defect, fraud and adulteration (e.g.
    food safety, quality defects) – regulated in food
    safety and quality standards
  • Presence of expected properties (e.g nutritional
    components, external and internal quality aspects)
    – regulated or starting to be in food quality or
    labelling standards

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Excellence: Specific quality of food

   • Added value through:
        – Forms of production (organic farming, environmental
          consideration, animal welfare),
        – Specific production areas (designation of origin) and their
          associated traditional production methods.
   • High interest in this area:
        – Operators try to distinguish their products from similar ones to
          attract customer attention and fidelity
        – Regulators provide a legal framework.

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Implementation of rules

  • Mandatory rules are implemented because their
    non-implementation would have severe
    consequences (legal or financial)
  • Recommendations are implemented because:
        – it makes sense,
        – it is demanded by the buyer,
        – Everybody uses them

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UNECE Standards for Meat

  • UNECE Standards for Meat are
  • They define a common trading language for
    buyers and sellers
  • The more they are used – the more useful they
  • They are used because they facilitate trade and
    ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business

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For all species…

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Why do we need a common language?

  • Consider a pork belly boneless & rindless
        – Denmark 1808
        – British 55211
        – British (Meat Buyers Guide) 314 (only bone in)
        – USA (NAMP-Meat Buyers Guide) 409
        – USA (NPPC) 3620
        – Aus 4332 (single ribbed)

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Why do we need a common language?

  • Long distribution chain with critical processes to
  • Specification is primarily visual
  • Normal communications are non-visual
  • Product is primarily judged on appearance

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Cost of problems

  •   Consumer confidence in product performance
  •   Buyer and seller interface confidence
  •   Increasingly expensive quality control
  •   Expensive communications
        – travel
        – time & resources

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Agriculture and trade: keys to civilization

   • We all need to eat!
   • We need to get the right quantity of good quality food
   • How we get our food and what we eat determines how we
   • Agriculture and trade have given us the time to create the
     civilization we know today.

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A new system

  • Imagine a system that enables all parties
    in the distribution chain to have the same
    unambiguous specification for transactions
        – the same picture
        – the same language
        – the same critical information (weight, colour, texture,
          cutting lines)
        – All of this applicable to standard and non-standard

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Added value

  •   cross reference to national standards
  •   reduces language problems
  •   low communication costs
  •   speculative market for buyers and sellers
  •   product data

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  • Government and other official bodies
  • Health professionals
  • Meat inspection services
  • Meat purchasing (commercial and official)
  • Meat traders and meat plants
  • Training organisations
  • Veterinary (practice and training)

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The Nutrition Transition

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Modern agriculture: A success story!

   • More people than ever before have enough to eat and pay
     less for it
   • Our numbers have increased – the percentage of people
     suffering from hunger and malnutrition has decreased
   • Average life expectancy has increased
   • Science and technology allow us to produce more with less
   • There is more choice in food products than ever before and
     most products are available all year around in many places
   • ...

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Modern agriculture: A success story?

  • People are still starving or suffer from malnutrition in some
  • In the same countries and elsewhere a growing number of
    people die from eating too much and inadequate food (too
    much fat, too much sugar)
  • Small farmers have problems competing
  • Many people complain about the taste of fruit and vegetables
  • Intensive agriculture creates problems with soils and water
  • Intensive agriculture creates new food safety problems
  • ...

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Could we do it differently?

   • Good traditional cooking and gastronomy use high quality,
     natural ingredients and are healthy and tasty
   • Good quality food is not necessarily expensive or difficult
     to prepare
   • Competition could be based first on quality then on price

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Values and education

  • Problems: Irresponsible profit thinking and missing
  • Profit thinking can be a source of motivation – it is missing
    values and responsibility that create problems
  • We need responsible, well informed actors in the food
    supply chain from the producers to the consumers

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The role of agriculture

   • Agriculture should give all of us:
        – Enough, affordable, safe, healthy, tasty food
        – That has been produced in a sustainable way, with
          respect to our environment and the other creatures with
          who we share this planet; and
   • Agriculture should give those who work there a
     fair income and good working conditions

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A good diet – the key to health

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 Trade in agricultural products in the ECE
 region in 1949

   • Countries use national quality standards to
     regulate trade within their borders
   • Producers market
   • Growing interest in international trade
   • Existing national regulations become barriers to
     international trade

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Harmonization of national standards

    • 1949 The Working Party on Agricultural Quality
      Standards takes up its work at UNECE in Geneva
    • 1954 The Geneva Protocol and Standard Layout
      are adopted

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Why standards?

        • To define common trading language for all
          actors in the supply chain
        • To facilitate fair international trade
        • To avoid bad quality products on the markets
        • To guide producers to meet market
        • To build trust and market opportunities
        • To encourage high quality production
        • To improve producers’ profitability
        • To protect consumers’ interests
        • Remove technical barriers to trade

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Aspects of quality: Commercial quality

   • No quality without safety
   • Quality is MORE than safety.
   • Commercial quality is a set of parameters
     describing internal and external characteristics of
     the produce, which are necessary to ensure
     transparency in trade and good eating quality.

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 Aspects of quality: Expected properties of
 food products

External                                Internal

Color                                      Taste
Shape            Commercial quality     Maturity
Packing…                              Nutrition…

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  Evaluation of commercial quality

    • Subjective
       – Sensorial caracteristics (taste, smell, texture,
    • Objective
       – Analytical or physical measurements

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  UNECE Standard Layout

        •   Definition of produce
        •   Minimum requirements
        •   Maturity requirements (objective)
        •   Classification (Extra, class I, class II)
        •   Sizing provisions
        •   Tolerances (quality, size)
        •   Presentation (uniformity, packaging)
        •   Marking
        •   Annexes: Definitions, Lists of varieties,
            Testing and Sampling procedures, Definitions

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  Principles for the Development of UNECE

   • All relevant actors in the supply chain (buyers,
     sellers, retailers, producers, consumers etc.
     through their associations) should participate
   • Cooperation with other international organizations
     should be sought and any duplication avoided
   • All UN member countries can participate with the
     same rights
   • Decisions are taken on a consensus basis

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  Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia,
    Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Côte
    d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland,
    France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Hungary,
    India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Lithuania, Morocco,
    Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal,
    Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, South
    Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine,
    Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States,
    Uruguay, European Community

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Organizational Structure

            Economic Commission for Europe
           Committee for Trade, Industry and
              Enterprise Development

                         Working Party
                    on Agricultural Quality Standards

               Specialized Section on Standardization of

         Fresh Fruit       Dry and            Seed      Meat
        and Vegetables    Dried Fruit        Potatoes

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  Process of developing a UNECE standard

Specialized Section and                               Specialized Section
Working Party agree to                                     discusses
                           prepares/amends text
create/amend a standard                                  text in detail

                              Working Party
                          discusses text in general

   UNECE Standard           Recommendation
                          trial period (1-3 years)

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 Standards available

                     Dry and dried Fruit (17)
 Fresh fruit and
 vegetables (49)
                    UNECE Agricultural              Meat (4)


     Potatoes (3)
                                                Cut flowers (8)
                            Eggs and egg
                            products (5)
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Standards for
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Annonas            Headed Cabbages    Garlic                Radishes
Apples             Carrots            Horse-radish          Raspberries
Apricots           Cauliflowers       Kiwifruit             Ribbed celery
Artichokes         Chinese Cabbages   Leeks                 Rhubarb
Asparagus          Cherries           Lettuce and endives   Scorzonera
Aubergines         Citrus fruit       Mangoes               Spinach
Avocados           Cucumbers          Melons                Strawberries
Beans              Courgettes         Onions                Sweet peppers
Bilberries and     Cultivated         Peaches and           Table grapes
   Blueberries        mushrooms          Nectarines         Tomatoes
Broccoli           Edible sweet       Pears                 Watermelons
Brussels sprouts      chestnuts       Peas                  Witloof chicory
                   Fennel             Pineapples
                   Fresh figs         Plums

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Current and future work in
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

    • Internal quality
    • Maturity requirements
    • Harmonized Produce coding
    • Promoting trade in Fresh Fruit and Vegetables to
      contribute to a WHO strategy on Diet, Health and Physical
    • New standards for Shallots, Truffles and Ceps

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UNECE standards for dry
and dried produce

   Apples, dried      Pine nuts, decorticated peeled
   Apricots, dried    Pistachio kernels, decorticated and
   Cashew kernels       decorticated peeled
   Dates, whole       Pistachio kernels, unshelled
   Figs, dried        Prunes, sweet
   Grapes, dried      Almonds, decorticated
   Hazelnuts,         Sweet almonds, unshelled
   inshell            Walnut kernels
   Hazelnut kernels   Walnuts, inshell
   Pears, dried

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Current and Future work in
Dried Produce

         • Revision of standards for
           pistachios and almonds
         • New standards for Dried
           Peaches, Pecan nuts, Macademia
           nuts, Dried Peppers, Dried
           Tomatoes, Peanuts

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Colour gauge for walnut kernels

“Extra” Class: Uniformly light-
coloured kernels with practically no
dark straw and/or lemon yellow and
with no dark brown.

Class I: Kernels of a colour not
darker than light brown.

Class II: Kernels of a colour not
darker than dark brown. Darker
kernels may be marketed in this class,
provided the colour is indicated on the

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UNECE Standards for Meat

    • Porcine Meat - Carcases and Cuts - 1998 - currently being
    • Bovine Meat - Carcases and Cuts - 2004
    • Ovine Meat - Carcases and Cuts - 2004
    • Chicken Meat - Carcases and Parts – 2004
    • Llama/Alpaca Meat - 2004
    • Other standards planned: Goat, Turkey, Veal

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 Example: Bovine Coding

          ( 01) 91234567890121( 3102) 000376( 7002) 15111110205142111

         ( 1 3 ) 0 0 1 2 3 1 ( 1 0 ) 1 2 3 ABC

  (01) 91234567890121                      - Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)
  (3102) 000376                            - Net Weight, kilograms
  (7002) 15111110205142111                 - UN/ECE Meat Carcasses and Cuts Code
  (13) 001231                              - Slaughter/Packaging Date
  (10) 123ABC                              - Batch Number
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Implementation of standards 1


                      European           Codex        OECD Scheme
                     Commission       Alimentarius

        National     Commission                        Explanatory
                                     Codex Standard
        Standard      Regulation                        Brochure

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Implementation of standards 2

  • To create a quality control service
  • To train actors in the supply chain in quality
    standards (production, wholesale, import/export)
  • To implement control schedules
  • To get international accreditation for national
    quality controls (in case of the EU this has been
    implemented for Cyprus, Czech Republic,
    Hungary, India, Israel, Morocco, Slovakia, South
    Africa and Switzerland)

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The situation today

   • Consumers market - Consumers concerned about quality
     and safety
   • Complex international supply chains
   • Big retailers operate globally
   • More countries enter the international markets
   • Trade creates their own strict standards
   • New technologies allow new types of quality testing
   • Problems as mentioned in the introduction

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Future work

   • Private and public standard setting and implementation
     bodies work together, complementing each other
   • Definition of parameters and values for internal quality of
     produce and use new technologies for testing
   • Encourage good quality and good farming practices by
     giving recognition to those who farm in a sustainable way
   • Support the trade of organic produce by basing the
     definition of quality less on external appearance and more
     on internal parameters
   • Codify standards to be used in electronic commerce
   • Develop training packages to assist countries in the
     implementation of standards

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Why participate in standardization?

  • To be integrated in the international trading
    system (to contribute and decide)
  • To propose standards for local products for which
    international standards do not exist
  • To network, exchange experiences, learn from

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Products with future

  • High quality products which can command a high
  • Promotion of “brand awareness” for local products
    (controlled origin labels)
  • Organic produce

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 UNECE standards and meeting information
 on the internet

 • Http://

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