(Sept. 27) Over its 10-year existence, EurepGAP came to extend far beyond Europe to set food safety standards.

It will be considerably harder for the group to outgrow its new moniker – GlobalGAP.

At a September conference in Thailand, EurepGAP leaders introduced the new name and logo, citing the group’s expanding international role.

GlobalGAP establishes good agricultural practices agreed to by retailers and their suppliers.

The standards were initially targeted at Europe, but now have led to identical criteria adopted in South and Central America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Thailand.

The news release said established equivalent schemes such ChileGAP, ChinaGAP, KenyaGAP, MexicoGAP, JGAP (Japan) and most recently ThaiGAP, are backed by national governments, retailers, producers and exporters.

GlobalGAP certification includes some social responsibility issues in addition to food safety standards, including worker rights, environment issues and stewardship, said Kathy Means, vice president of government relations for the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del. She said North American suppliers — particularly those who export to Europe and the U.K. — are familiar with the standard.

Currently GlobalGAP covers over 80,000 certified producers in more than 80 counties, said chairman Nigel Garbutt in the news release. No statistics at the group’s Web site showed a list of members by country.

EXPANDING INFLUENCE

The influence of GlobalGAP and United Kingdom-based Tesco’s additional Nature’s Choice standard has been expanding in the U.S., said Vince Balakian, co-owner of Fruit Patch Sales LLC, Dinuba, Calif. The Tesco program also covers energy use and “carbon footprint” issues.

Fruit Patch’s packinghouse is GlobalGAP certified, as well as two large growers of grapes that supply Fruit Patch.

“The family (stone fruit) is all certified,” he said, in addition to a couple of other growers.

Now that Tesco has come to the U.S. in Southern California and Arizona, Balakian said Tesco suppliers would be required not only to fulfill GlobalGAP standards but also Tesco’s Nature’s Choice standards.

Tesco will allow some time to adjust and audit the new standards, he said.

“There will be a grace period, but it won’t be very long,” he said.

Balakian said Costco has shown interest in the GlobalGAP program.

Other supermarkets, such as Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., may also be motivated to add to their standards, Balakian said.