2016 marks the eighth complete season of CanadaGAP operations. The program has seen steady growth since its inception in 2008. The enrolment rate spiked in 2015, but leveled off again in 2016 with a 4% growth rate. The table above shows year-over-year growth in the number of producers participating in the program. Almost 4,000 enrolments have been processed by the CanadaGAP office since 2008. The growth rates illustrated are net of departures from the program, which may be due to changes in a farming operation, retirement, voluntary termination of certification, etc.
We’re pleased to highlight the following key achievements for 2016:
• Option D for repacking and wholesaling operations was successfully benchmarked by GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative). A significant increase in enrolments to Option D occurred following the announcement. Consistent with targets set by the CanadaGAP Board and management, 60 companies from the repacking and wholesaling sector are now CanadaGAP-certified.
• CanadaGAP undertook a thorough review of new GFSI benchmarking requirements and is working on implementing plans to meet increasing GFSI expectations (e.g., new Food Fraud provisions, additional assessments of Auditor Competency, introduction of Unannounced Audits in 2017, managing rising costs of benchmarking and surveillance by GFSI, etc.).
• We are making good progress with achieving full Government Recognition. The final stage of recognition, Implementation Assessment, consists of an examination by federal and provincial governments of the delivery of the program by CanadaGAP and its certification bodies. The process is currently underway and is expected to be complete by 2017.
• CanadaGAP partnered with the North American Potato Sustainability Initiative (PSI) to offer verification audits for potato growers participating in the IPM Survey. Nine CanadaGAP auditors were successfully cross-trained on the PSI requirements. The first Potato Sustainability audits will take place over the 2016 potato storage and shipping season.
• Congratulations to CanadaGAP program participants, who have achieved the highest average audit scores since the program started. The average audit score in 2016 was 94.04%. Kudos to our hard-working farmers, packers, repackers, storage operators, wholesalers and brokers who are doing an outstanding job with food safety!
Program Participant Survey
Outreach to program participants was stepped up via an online or paper-based survey. The survey was distributed to members in September 2016, with 74% of respondents completing the web-based version. Completed surveys are still coming in, but preliminary results (based on 170 responses) show that:
• 91% felt that their auditor was knowledgeable and professional.
• 62% found that their auditor had good common sense.
• 68% stated that their auditor spoke clearly.
• 30% believed that their auditor was looking for things they were doing well.
• Only 3% disagreed with the auditor’s findings.
• 14% felt that the auditor was trying to find things wrong.
• 8% said it seemed that the auditor was out to get them.
• 6% described their auditor as unreasonable.
Respondents could choose as many answers as were applicable to their experience. In other questions:
• 36% of program participants were not aware of the process to appeal their audit results.
• 16% were unclear on the difference between CanadaGAP (as the scheme) and their certification body.
In response to the question, “What is the best thing about participating in CanadaGAP?”
• 41% said the best thing was “Demonstrating responsibility for food safety”
• 35% cited “Access to market (processor, retailer or other customers)” as the main benefit.
• For 11%, the most significant benefit was the “Comfort of knowing that risks are being managed”
• 9% indicated the best thing about the program was “Improved farm/organizational management”.
Others cited their own reasons:
➢ “Simple and easy to use and easily understood, plus forms are already made out for use.”
➢ “We have always embraced food safety. It's good to have professional 'eyes'.”
➢ “Many advantages to participating in CanadaGAP but [I] had to pick just one although the rest all apply to our farm also. I like the fact that the program is Canadian owned, meticulously reviewed and updated so that it maintains a highly recognizable standard.”
When asked about the main drawback to participating in CanadaGAP, respondents indicated:
• Burden of paperwork (63%)
• Cost of the program (22%)
• Ensuring customer needs are met (report uploads, additional requirements, etc.) (4%)
• A bad auditor (3%)
• Difficulty of the audit (1%)
• Other reasons, such as the difficulty of having all suppliers certified, audits occurring at a busy time, etc. (6%)
Results are preliminary, not final, and are based on the current response rate of <10%. Surveys are being accepted until the end of 2016. We thank all members who have taken the time to provide their comments and suggestions, and encourage those who haven’t yet responded to share their feedback.
Nearly 3,050 producers are now participating in CanadaGAP. The following participation trends are significant for 2016:
• The fastest growing participation rates across the provinces are in Quebec and PEI. Quebec saw a 10.1% increase in 2016, and PEI showed 9.7% growth in the number of producers enrolling. Alberta is next with 6.3% growth in 2016.
• Increases in BC have leveled off from the surge of new enrolments in 2015, although overall BC still has the highest enrolment levels, with 42% of all CanadaGAP-certified producers.
• Participation in the four-year audit cycle continues to decline, in favour of the annual audit option. Only a quarter of all program participants are now enrolled in Options A1 and A2. This compares to 30% of program participants in 2014, and 50% in 2011.
• Enrolments in Option C (annual audit) are now close to 50% of all program participants.
• Group certifications remain stable at 24% of all enrolments, almost on par with 23% in 2015.
• This year again saw higher than average retirements as the established farming population ages. However, the growth in enrolments more than offset withdrawals from the program in 2016.
• For the purposes of analyzing participation trends, enrolment figures are broken down by five crop groupings:
o Tree and Vine Fruit
o Field Vegetables
o Small Fruit
Total participation in CanadaGAP is 100%. The proportion of that total occupied by each crop grouping is presented above and in the detailed program statistics in the annual report on the CanadaGAP website.
• The potato and combined vegetable sectors each now represent 18% of producers participating in the program. Small fruit represents a slightly larger proportion at 20% of all enrolments.
• Participation levels remained the same as in 2015 for the greenhouse and leafy vegetable sectors, respectively at 8% and 6% of all program participants.
• The proportion of certified companies from the tree fruit industry declined slightly, from 33% of all producers in 2015 to 30% in 2016.
In April 2015, CanadaGAP certification became available to fresh produce brokers under Option D. Six produce brokers are now CanadaGAP-certified.
• The number of CanadaGAP Audits (for Options A1, A2, C, D, and Group Management System audits) is presented in the chart above
• In addition each year, 70 to 100 farms that belong to groups are audited.
What’s Ahead for 2017?
• Completion of full Government Recognition
• Unannounced Audits
• Additional GFSI Auditor Competency assessments
• Changes to 2017 Manuals – key revisions to come into effect April 1, 2017
• Changes to 2017 Audit Checklist – new passing score will be 85%, effective April 1, 2017.
Heather Gale is executive director, CanadaGAP Program, CanAgPlus.