New Zealand Government-owned AsureQuality and PwC’s New Zealand and China firms are cooperating with China’s largest agricultural and food products supplier COFCO to improve China’s food safety and quality.
All four parties signed a cooperation agreement to that effect on the side-lines of the 2014 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Beijing, China.
Drawing on leading New Zealand and international food and agricultural models, the agreement formalises areas where AsureQuality and PwC will support COFCO in embedding best practice in food safety and quality across the food and agriculture industries.
PwC Asia Pacific Chairman Silas Yang said: "The goal of APEC is to support sustainable economic growth, encourage prosperity through economic and technical cooperation and to enhance human security in the Asia Pacific region. This cooperation is a shining example of this. Together, AsureQuality, PwC New Zealand and PwC China intend to introduce international good practice in food safety and quality to China, and thereby, contribute to the sustainable development of the country’s food sector."
The significance of this agreement shows China and COFCO’s commitment to continue improving trust in the safety and quality of China’s food as COFCO becomes a key player in the global agricultural industry within China’s unique situation, where demand has flowed from the country’s rapid social advancements and urbanisation of its people.
COFCO chairman Frank Ning said: "As China’s biggest integrated food and agricultural products supplier, we have a responsibility to ensure trust in China’s food safety and qualit, and we have a strong platform on which to do just that. We believe this cooperation with PwC and AsureQuality will help us achieve that goal."
AsureQuality CEO John McKay said: "The growing affluence of China’s urbanised consumers and its middle classes are changing food demand dynamics and creating greater expectations not just of safety, but of quality, choice and provenance. The food bar in China is rising ever higher and increasing China’s reliance on premium imported foods as its people demand the best.
"We commend COFCO’s commitment to become an internationally recognised best practice leader in the food and agriculture industries. This will enhance COFCO’s reputation and the reputation of New Zealand as a leader in food safety and quality practices."
PwC global agribusiness leader Craig Armitage said: "This important relationship demonstrates our combined ability to build trust in society by marrying industry expertise and experience, government-to-government support and the resources of one of China’s biggest food companies. It will support COFCO in giving the people of China confidence that the food they eat and feed to their families meets the highest international standards of safety and quality."
Armitage said food trust is not just an issue affecting China; it’s a growing concern around the world as people trust less and demand greater confidence in their food.
Armitage added: "Globalisation, regulatory change, resource scarcity and food fraud are just some of the issues our government, food and agricultural clients are facing, in China and elsewhere. Suppliers are facing downward cost pressures and thus risks throughout the supply chain are increased."
According to PwC’s 2014 APEC Survey, uncertainty around regulations guiding cross-border physical and virtual trade is creating more and more of a ‘tax’ on this increasingly vibrant economic arena, with a more complex production chain evolving.
Armitage added: "The faster barriers can be lowered, the faster economies can grow. Reductions in tariffs help, but businesses are looking for more clarity and consistency in product labelling and data sharing. Pressure is building on businesses to get their products to customers as quickly as possible and in an age where raw materials and semi-finished products are exported and imported many times over before a product is finished.
"We are here to address barriers by providing certainty from the farm to the consumer, building trust and ensuring the safety and quality of food consumed daily by millions of people."