One grower, one GAP audit.


It doesn’t have quite the ring of “one man, one vote,” but it would be a good rallying cry for a new group of industry leaders whose aim is to make the good agricultural practices audit process easier for everyone along the supply chain.


In September, the Produce GAP Harmonization Initiative had its first meeting. Made up of 50 leaders drawn from the grower-shipper, foodservice and retail sectors and from the staff of the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association, the organization’s technical working group has a meeting in November.


The goal is to develop an audit system in which growers, who are already burdened with myriad costs that cut into their bottom lines, don’t have to pay for more than one GAP audit. Under the group’s plan, one audit conducted by a credible third-party company would be considered satisfactory for all buyers.


That would mean less duplication of effort and unnecessary costs borne not only by shippers and receivers but also by consumers.


The Produce GAP Harmonization Initiative is helmed by strong leaders. Brian Kocher, president for North America of Chiquita Brands International, heads the steering committee. David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology of United Fresh, and Suresh Decosta, manager of quality systems for McDonald’s Corp., lead the technical group.


They have momentum on their side. Industry support for the Produce Traceability Initiative, whose goal is to bring similar order and harmony to food safety, is great.


The new group is right to strike while the iron is hot. And the achievement of its goals could be good for grower-shippers, retailers, foodservice purveyors and consumers.


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