Global food traceability experts reveal how Malaysian companies can enter global markets

| 03/04/2008 | Reply

Bandar Sunway, 1 April 2008 – An
international conference focusing on food traceability issues and
concerns commenced this morning at the Sunway Resort Hotel and Spa to a
gathering of local and foreign delegates in the food and feed
industries.

The
Secretary-General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based
Industry, Malaysia, YH Dato’ Dr Zulkifli bin Idris, officiated on
behalf of YB Dato’ Mustapa Mohamed, the Minister of Agriculture and
Agro-based Industry, Malaysia at the opening ceremony of the “Food Traceability – The Key to Global Market Access” conference organised by the UK-based Global Food Traceability Forum (GFTF).

Some 20 internationally recognised experts on the topic will address a range of important global topics such as “Is
Halal traceability a route to opening new markets?”; “How Traceability
and Food Safety influence Trading Opportunities between Asia and
Europe”;
and “Is traceability a technical barrier to trade?” during the 2-day conference.

The
European speakers hail from Spain, the Netherlands, UK, Denmark,
Norway, Italy, France and Belgium, while the Asia – Pacific region is
represented by Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand and Malaysia, and all
are recognised as experts in research, development and implementation
of traceability systems and standards.

Welcoming
delegates this morning was the Director of Yakin I.T. Sdn Bhd, the
Malaysian partner for the conference, YBhg Datuk Dr. Muhamad Rais Abdul
Karim, who highlighted the importance of Food traceability for all
participants in the food supply chain. Datuk Dr. Rais said, “With
comprehensive food traceability, certification and authentication,
consumers will, in the future, be able to verify the authenticity at
the point of purchase and have access to relevant product information.
Access to more information will enhance consumers’ buying decisions and
promote transparency, choice and increased trade.

In
the face of increasing global competition, food producers who integrate
food traceability systems into their business operations would possess
a much-needed differentiator in an already crowded market and would
have an advantage in venturing into major importing blocks such as the
European Union, where traceability is mandatory for food products.

Nevertheless,
Datuk Dr Rais added, “Food traceability and best practices
record-keeping are not only about market access but also serve as
important tools to assist companies and food safety inspectors in the
event of food safety alerts.”

Food
crises such as the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFM) and the outbreak
of the Japanese Encephalitis (JE) virus in Asian countries or the mad
cow disease in the UK could be managed more effectively with a
comprehensive traceability system able to yield data at different
stages within the supply chain. Ultimately, the development of advanced
technology in this area would benefit the consumers and ensure that the
food we consume is safe and its quality assured.

The
Chairman of the Organising Committee, Mr Ian G. Smith, meanwhile shared
his delight at staging the conference in Malaysia as he believes
Malaysia’s position as an emerging global ‘halal’ hub makes it a most
appropriate venue for this inaugural traceability conference in Asia.

As
the country strives towards becoming a net food exporter by the year
2010, it is even more vital for local food producers and industry
stakeholders to adapt to the new developments in the global food sector
and adopt the requisite standards and best practices aimed at
increasing trade.

“The
European Union (EU) is the world’s largest single market and offers
great opportunities for food exporters who can demonstrate
traceability. Our conference will examine how the Asian food supply
chains can find the key to this European and indeed global market
access. In recent years, the EU has invested over €100 million in food
traceability research and the PETER project, one of the EU-funded
projects, is currently analysing the results of this research with a
view to recommending ways in which the EU and its food suppliers can
work together to achieve better food safety and increased trade.

“We
will be sharing the results from this analysis with delegates at this
Conference and they will be able to add their views to a document which
we hope to present to the EU in May 2008. The conference also aims to
provide feedback to the European Commission of key conclusions and
recommendations that could help develop future marketing opportunities
for both Asian importers and exporters”, said Mr Smith.

Mr
Smith also stressed the importance for Malaysian food companies to make
every effort to ensure their products can be traced from ‘farm to
fork’, not just to expand overseas but because he believes Malaysian
consumers are also becoming more discerning in their lifestyle choices
nowadays.

He later presented a signed copy of his latest book “Food Traceability Around The World” to YH Dato’ Dr Zulkifli bin Idris, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Malaysia.

Compiled
and edited with Professor Anthony Furness, the resident technology
expert at GFTF, the book outlines various traceability accounts from
different countries around the world and a specific examination of the
development of aquaculture in Asia. The book retails at RM499 and can
be purchased from the Conference Secretariat via e-mail to www.gftf.org.

The
PETER project comprises an inner network of eight EU supported research
programmes on food traceability and is answering the urgent need for
consolidation and dissemination of European expertise to current and
developing markets, as well as small medium enterprises (SMEs) so that
they can grow their exports to the global markets that now exist.

The leaders of one of the PETER project partners, FoodTrace
– Ian G. Smith and Prof. Anthony Furness, later founded GFTF, an
international networking forum for stakeholders in the food and feed
supply chains.

The Malaysian partner for the GFTF conference is Yakin IT Sdn.
Bhd, a company dedicated to enhancing quality in private and public
organisations through the pursuit of Halal principles and the
intelligent use of advanced information technology.

Supporting
Yakin IT in operational deployment throughout Malaysia and for the GFTF
conference in particular is FoodReg Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a technology
company providing traceability software tools for companies and
governing bodies in the food industry to achieve best practices.

Category: Asia, Halal Integrity

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