The GGFSA add-on aims to simplify sustainability claims for producers. Nearly two years after the add-on was launched, we find out how one farm put theory into practice.

GLOBALG.A.P. Farm Sustainability Assessments (GGFSA)

The GGFSA add-on is the result of a partnership between the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI platform) and GLOBALG.A.P. It offers an innovative solution to overlapping sustainability certifications. Based on the GLOBALG.A.P. Integrated Farm Assurance standard (IFA) for Crops, the GGFSA add-on allows producers to complete a Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) audit within their GLOBALG.A.P. IFA certification. FSA-compliant farms are awarded one of three performance categories – Gold, Silver, or Bronze – alongside their IFA certification.

VOG Products jumps on board

VOG Products, based in Italy, is one of the first companies to achieve joint GLOBALG.A.P. and FSA certification thanks to the add-on. But who are VOG Products and why did they opt for the GGFSA add-on?

VOG Products is a produce wholesaler and processing company which sources natural ingredients – apples, in large part – for the food and beverage industry. Produce is sourced from 18 cooperatives based in the South Tyrol and Trentino provinces. These cooperatives are supplied by over 13,000 family-run enterprises which are grouped into four producer organizations.  
“The average size of our associated farms is about 3.2ha, which is not really comparable to most other apple producing sites around the world,” explains Johannes Runggaldier, Chairman of VOG Products. “In order to compete with other producers around the world, we need to be at the cutting edge of innovation all along the supply chain. Sustainable farming [integrated production] therefore has more than 30 years of history in Trentino-South Tyrol.” To continue this sustainability drive, VOG Products was keen to make an FSA claim.

Why choose GGFSA? 

GLOBALG.A.P. IFA is already benchmarked as equivalent to the FSA Silver level in 13 EU countries, as well as in the USA and three Canadian provinces. Farms outside of these countries normally require an FSA audit in addition to their chosen farm assurance audit. Instead, VOG Products opted for the GGFSA add-on to replace the FSA audit. For Runggaldier it was an easy choice: “More than 80% of our producers are under GLOBALG.A.P. IFA certification and have completed a GRASP assessment. This – alongside the high standards already in place in accordance with national laws – meant that it was extremely straightforward to implement the measures for the FSA.”
But if it sounds so simple, did VOG Products face any challenges along the way? The biggest challenge for the processor was the administrative task of harmonizing the four producer organizations – and even this didn’t hold them up for long!

Going for gold

In May 2020, VOG Products completed the GGFSA audit with the CSQA certifying institution. In June, VOG Products received confirmation that they fulfill GGFSA requirements, granting the company FSA Gold-level status. “We are pleased that our many years of commitment to sustainability have now been recognized with the FSA Gold label,” says Runggaldier. “The FSA audit took place within our regular IFA audit and was definitely easier than having to prepare and pay for two separate audits. I was also surprised at how quickly we were able to get our FSA claim verified. We are very happy with our experience. As for the future, our FSA Gold level status gives us a further opportunity to show consumers that our apples are not only safe, but also that our production processes and product handling methods are sustainable – 100% Gold-level sustainable.”

Are you interested in combining your IFA inspection or audit with an FSA claim? Find out more about the GGFSA add-on here:

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