"We need a culture of safety ..."

“There must be a strategic projection of where we are going to direct our fruit, because the type of phytosanitary applications that we are going to carry out, the type of facilities we require in the field, and whether we are going to harvest the fruit directly depends on that, or if we are going to do it through a packaging line "

Ana Miranda, quality director of Hortifrut México, and Johanna Trombert, specialist in food safety, in their respective talks, given in the context of International Blueberry Month, have made energetic calls to take care of good environmental and health practices to face the post-pandemic business scenarios and their new standards.

The experts have placed emphasis on the digitization of the processes, the complete traceability of the fruit's journey from the field to the consumer, on national and international certifications, on the sustainability of the activity, on safety, and on the healthiness of people and the product, as some of the essential elements to obtain competitiveness in the markets.

First: What is the customer?

For some it is not an easy topic to talk about standards of safety or sustainability in the production process, especially in these times, mainly due to the costs and high demands that this implies, but the vast majority are understanding that to be competitive in the markets standards must be maintained in accordance with customer demand.

Ana Miranda states that, to optimize these costs, we must first identify what the customer is. “It is very important to make the distinction if the customer is the person who is going to consume the product, or the distributor, or the retailer, etc. This definition of the client is important because we need to deliver both the product and the service, according to the demand that the client has ”, he points out.

“Likewise, we must identify the market in which we are going to distribute and sell the blueberries. If we are going to distribute blueberries over a long distance and we need some type of post-harvest technology, then defining the client from the beginning of the commercialization is key to be able to make a general structure of the entire process ”, he reiterates.

Digitization and full traceability

Johanna Trombert places the emphasis on blockchain systems and the urgent digitization of the entire chain. "We must have a complete traceability of the process, from the departure of our fruit from the field, to the arrival at the consumer's table wherever it is in the world" and he adds:

“What's more, consumers are already demanding complete information about the product, not only regarding the certifications it has, but where it was produced, who made it, the different environmental footprints, respect for the rights of affected communities and the labor law, among other information ”.

Ana Miranda, points in the same direction: “First are the safety certifications to ensure that the product does not represent a danger to the consumer. The second is compliance with social responsibility standards. Currently, with all the openness and globalization that exists, there is a great interest in knowing not only the product as such, but also if it complies with ethical conditions, with human rights conditions, with labor issues ... "

Initial planning

Both experts recognize that the requirements are not easy to implement, so they advise that initial planning is essential. “There must be a strategic projection of where we are going to direct our fruit, because the type of phytosanitary applications that we are going to carry out, the type of installations we require in the field, and whether we are going to harvest the fruit directly depends on that, or if we are going to do it through a packaging line. The key and fundamental thing is to start these works on time, because once we have the harvest we all know that the fruit does not wait, because we are talking about a product with a short shelf life when it reaches its optimum maturity ”.

“The important thing is that we must have a culture of safety. We have to be aware that, although this effort increases costs, it also provides us with great benefits, both in the operation of our orchards by digitizing the process, and in marketing and access to better markets due to the superior standard of our fruit " , ends Trombert.

Source
Martín Carrillo O. - Blueberries Consulting

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