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International Food Safety Forum to promote agriculture

Released at: 14:37, 03/12/2018

International Food Safety Forum to promote agriculture

Photo: IFC

Forum held in Vietnam for first time and will boost agribusiness and food management practices.

by Khanh Chi

How investments in food safety and fostering a food safety culture are able to help companies unlock business opportunities, create jobs, and contribute to economic growth were the main topics of discussion at the 7th international food safety forum “Better Food Safety, Better Business”, held in Ho Chi Minh City last week by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in partnership with New Zealand.

This was the first time the forum has been organized in Vietnam, where annual growth in the food sector is 15 per cent; among the highest in Asia. Inadequate safety standards, however, could hinder the sector’s sustainable growth and reduce market opportunities for local food producers and significantly affect consumers’ health.

The forum brought together key players from the global food industry to discuss the business case for companies to adopt food safety standards and practices. Investment in food safety helps enterprises improve efficiency and achieve savings on operating costs, contributing to stronger brand value. Furthermore, the increased sales, diverse market opportunities, and substantial returns on investment over the long-term offset the costs involved.

“Agribusiness and food security are part of our development priorities because they contribute to improving health, reducing poverty, and creating jobs,” said H.E Wendy Matthews, New Zealand’s Ambassador to Vietnam. “Through the IFC, we support Vietnamese companies to build capabilities and put in place practical and efficient systems to produce safe food that meet the expectations of consumers. This will help open up new market opportunities and expand business.”

International experts and practitioners also shared valuable experiences from instilling a food safety culture and promoting stronger standards across food supply chains.

“Investment in food safety management systems is a prerequisite for the growth of a country’s agribusiness sector,” said Ms. Rana Karadsheh, IFC Asia Director for Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services. “Internationally-recognized standards have a proven track record of delivering results that include better risk management and better access to markets. In addition, for investors a strong, effective food safety management system is a sign of a sustainable business.”

The IFC has more than 15 years of experience in providing food safety advisory services to agribusiness and retail clients globally. This work has helped 150 IFC clients from 30 countries and territories attract $290 million in investments and generate more than $230 million in new sales. In Vietnam, in partnership with New Zealand and Slovakia, the IFC is building awareness of increased food safety standards and training smallholder farmers to achieve international certification, subsequently increasing incomes and contributing to food security.

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