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Exploratory results on food safety management in Chinese apple chains: Report on China trip for Sustainapple, April 21-28, 2014

Moustier P., Jia X., Thi Tan Loc N., Marie-Vivien D.. 2014. Montpellier : CIRAD, 17 p..

The main objective of the research is to investigate which institutional mechanisms can reduce ¿mistrust¿ between China and its trade partners related to food safety. The objectives of the exploratory trip were as follows: (i) to meet the research partners of the study and exchange on the research protocol; (ii) to get some preliminary information on the public and private standards in China; the origin of apples exported to Vietnam; the organisation of apple chains; the way supermarkets, import and export companies try to ensure apple safety. China administration makes genuine efforts to improve the control of food safety but still struggles to reach satisfactory results, especially due to deficient control at the local level. Four public standards are issued: Safe, Green, Non-hazardous, Organic; safe is the most in use. The traditional/dominant chain of apples comprises individual farmers (working on an average of 0.5 hectares), collectors, whole sale companies (able to pay cash), and market or shop retailers. Tracability is very difficult to establish in this chain. Shorter chains are established by supermarket and export companies, which try to source some of their apples directly from farmer cooperatives, and provide them with training services aimed at reducing the use of chemicals. In Vietnam, consumers as well as supermarket managers have a low appreciation of the safety of Chinese apples. This is due to various papers on the internet mentioning the use of dangerous pesticides in the wrapping papers supposed to be used by farmers in Shandong province; and also to the results of pesticide tests in supermarkets in 2012, which resulted in the halt of purchases of Chinese apples by Vietnamese supermarkets. Apples in Vietnam originate from New Zealand, USA and Australia. French apples have not been imported since August 2013, because the Plant Protection Department requires additional documentation on farmer's pest management, resulting in some tensions with the French authorities. This exploratory research has confirmed the importance of food safety issues to explain the dynamics of international apple trade. It has also shown how actors of retailing and export companies try to have more control on food production processes and more tracability to reduce quality uncertainties. The next steps of the research include a Chinese farmers' apple survey assessing the farmers' strategies in terms of food safety in relation with the marketing outlets and trainings received, focus groups on Vietnamese consumers' perception of apples from different origins, interviews of key persons in administrations in charge of food safety, interviews of some apple importers based in Vietnam, and the follow-up of the tracing of the origin of apples sold in Vietnam. (Résumé d'auteur)

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