A conference was held at the Sava Centre on 10th March 2014 when the launching activities of the two technical assistance projects were presented (“Improving Food Quality and Safety Standards in Serbia’s Meat Sector” and “Support to more efficient and inclusive agrifood chains: development of origin based labels in the horticultural sector”) aiming to provide support to more efficient and inclusive agrifood chains in Serbia by upgrading food safety and quality of meat sector and support development of origin-based labels in the horticultural sector. The event was jointly organized by European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, local project partners, project implementing agencies (REDD and Agrikultura), with the partners in industry sector (Industrija mesa Carnex and FOODLAND). The Conference participants were the representatives of Serbian Government and Administration, producers, exporters, local farmer organisations, renowned experts in the field of improvement of food quality standards and intellectual property rights, and those of the university. Jasna Stojanović, ATS Acting Director, gave a lecture as part of topic 2: “Certification of products with added value – private and public standards“.
Adding value to products is a trend occurring on a larger scale in different forms – from public and company strategies following this direction, to consumers that are more willing to pay for added value and finally to producers that are more willing to apply recommendations and start producing products with added value. Therefore, the guide presentation aimed at providing answers to questions like “why”, “who” and “how” to add value to products.
Adding value to products can include transformation of raw materials when products become eco friendly, with improved quality features and specifically packed or with other values and hence consumers are willing to pay more. On the other hand, this means that it is necessary to define additional requirements in primary and secondary legislation governing food safety and quality. In Serbia this primarily implies organic production and products bearing certain GI marks. Moreover, in addition to the national “quality marks”, there is an ever growing number of products bearing private quality marks as requested by producers or supermarkets.
By producing products with added value producers can attract a larger number of consumers that become more aware of the special quality that these products have. Furthermore, this means that such producers become more competitive given that they invest in food safety, packaging materials, certification, new marketing strategies, improved quality and other elements that distinguish these products from others. Introduction of certain standards such as BRC, HALAL or GlobalGap ensures expanding into new markets where consumers are more aware of the need to protect environment or animal welfare. Actually, this can be attained if we use services of accredited certification bodies, whereas ATS will continue to upgrade its capacities in this field especially if we take into consideration that ATS was EA peer evaluated again in order to maintain its status as an EA MLA signatory (testing laboratories, calibration laboratories, medical laboratories, inspection bodies and certification bodies providing certification of products) and extend the scope of the said agreement to include certification bodies providing certification of management systems and persons. Moreover, ATS currently has 6 accredited certification bodies providing certification of products in the field of organic production and 2 certification bodies providing certification of GI products (cabbage from Futog and ajvar from Leskovac).
Certification of products contributes to better placing of products on other markets and business success of companies which should be a goal of all Serbian producers regardless of competitiveness and demand requirements of such markets.