Food Quality Certification Schemes
EU schemes operate in the market alongside an increasing number of voluntary certification schemes. After having carefully assessed the situation, the Commission developed guidelines showing best practice for the operation of such schemes. The guidelines were drawn up in consultation with stakeholders.
What is a voluntary certification scheme?
Voluntary certification schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs provide assurance that certain aspects of the product or its production method, as laid down in a specification, have been observed.
They cover a wide range of different initiatives that function at different stages of the food supply chain. They can operate at the business-to-business (B2B) level or at the business-to-consumer (B2C) level. They can make use of logos but, especially at the B2B-level, many do not.
Certification schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs in the EU range from compliance with compulsory production standards to additional requirements relating to environmental protection, animal welfare, organoleptic qualities, "Fair Trade"…
Scheme owners are equally varied, covering the whole range from farmers and producers, through NGOs, interest groups and retailers, to public authorities.
A new inventory compiled for the European Commission in 2010 counted 441 schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs marketed in the EU. It provides a broad picture of existing schemes in the EU-27. This study provided the empirical background for the development of the guidelines. More information about the results of the study can be found here:
- Inventory of certification schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffsmarketed in the EU Member States - Data aggregations [6 MB]
- Global view - sectors [310 KB]
- Global view - production process [263 KB]
- Global view - policy areas [456 KB]