The program seeks to strengthen global competitiveness of the Chilean agri-food industry by setting standards that will allow companies to demonstrate their compliance with sustainability.
On Thursday, April 8, as part of the “Chile Conscious Origin” (Chile Origen Consciente) program, a pilot program on sustainability standards for poultry and pork producers was launched via Zoom. It was attended by representatives from the Chilean Meat Exporters’ Association (ChileCarne), the Pork Producers Trade Association (Asprocer), and the International Trade Center, as well as producers and government officials.
“Chile Conscious Origin” seeks to position the country both in international and local markets as a supplier of safe, healthy, and sustainable food products. In addition, it promotes sustainability in the Chilean agri-food sector through four pillars: definition of sustainability standards by production sector, assessment of sustainability performance, a public-private partnership, and dissemination of results.
The initiative is led by the Office of Agricultural Research and Policies (ODEPA), part of the Ministry of Agriculture, and funded by CORFO, the Chilean Economic Development Agency, through a line called Public Goods for Competitiveness. During the pilot phase, the program covers the pork, poultry, and dairy production subsectors. The project is governed by a Strategic Advisory Committee made up of representatives of the public and private sector, including the Agency for Sustainability and Climate Change (ASCC), the Ministry of the Environment, ProChile (Chilean Exports Promotion Bureau), Imagen de Chile Foundation, the Undersecretariat for International Economic Relations (SUBREI), Asprocer, Wines of Chile, the Dairy Consortium, and ChileCarne.
To begin the ceremony, a video explained how the program works and illustrated the benefits of “Chile Conscious Origin” for the sector. A conversation followed about the relevance of this initiative as a driver for change and opportunities for these three important Chilean sectors.
“This initiative opens up great opportunities for the agri-food sector, but it also poses great challenges, particularly today, given the difficult scenario posed by a health crisis that has affected the entire world in many aspects. There is also the major issue of ecosystem biodiversity loss, its effects on production systems, and possible solutions. Regarding the challenges facing this sector, the loss of products and energy has found a solution in the circular economy, as well as the challenge to adapt and respond to changes in consumer behavior and consumption patterns. Therefore, the Ministry of Agriculture has developed a strategy that balances social and economic interests in order to work collaboratively,” said Daniela Acuña, Sustainable Production Systems Officer of ODEPA’s Sustainability and Climate Change Department.
She added that the program is based on both international models and the Chilean experience. “We started in 2018 by developing various tools as part of a series of instruments that support the concept of sustainability in companies and help them improve weak spots in production and performance, as well as manage risk according to the producer’s own priorities,” Acuña explained. “The sectorial approach is key because it allows us to move forward. It allows everyone to win, gain experience, and improve on these issues,” she concluded.
In turn, Renzo Boccanegra, Sustainability Department Project Manager and head of the program at ChileCarne, explained that “we envision this program as a public tool that will support all producers involved in food production throughout the country. The toolbox and methodological processes will allow different sectors to build their own sustainability standards.”
“The process of defining the standards started in all pilot sectors with a diagnostic to identify sustainability gaps and gather existing data on protocols, standards, and practices that govern the various sectors both domestically and internationally. Then, the aspects considered most relevant were prioritized and different stakeholders were invited to co-create the standards as tools for sustainability management, thus allowing producers to visualize and communicate their processes,” he stated.
The program includes the development of a platform that shows the results of the sectors’ self-evaluations. “We started with these three sectors, but in the future, we will be able to expand to other Chilean agri-food industries,” said Ann-Katherine Zotz, Green Projects Manager of the International Trade Center (ITC), which has partnered to adapt a platform that was already available at the global level. Zotz also highlighted that “the companies that take the self-evaluation will also receive an analysis of the items they need to improve on to make progress in compliance with sectorial standards. At the trade association level, results will be delivered as an aggregate, in order to be able to observe the sector’s progress on environmental, social, and economic issues, among others.”
According to Daniela Álvarez, ChileCarne’s Sustainability Chief, “it is a mature platform that will allow producers to obtain a certification and also compare their performance with other existing international standards item by item, and thus be able to assess how far or close they are from complying. This is relevant as usually there are different requirements for food products depending on the destination market. They all can be viewed and managed from a single access point.”
At the same time, producers can trust that all the information they share is private and kept confidential by the ITC. “There is huge potential for trade associations and the State, as they will be able to visualize sustainable development progress in various agri-food sectors thanks to sectorial reports delivered by the platform in an aggregate and anonymous manner. This means having information on the contribution of productive sectors to the SDGs in a transparent, verified, and simple way. We are very pleased, and we look forward to the comments and feedback from the producers about this pilot,” said Alvarez.
The pilot has been available since April 15, 2021, upon the request of companies, on the management platform of the International Trade Center, a joint WTO and UN agency. It was adapted for use by Chilean companies so users can access the platform in a quicker and more customized manner. The platform will be open for the general public during the second half of this year.