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Certifications & Compliance: Consumer Choices


The third major sector of certification and compliance is driven largely by consumer preferences.

These so-called “lifestyle” certifications reflect consumers’ desires for products they can feel good about: organics, non-GMO items, the use of recycled materials, and environmentally friendly packaging and shipping, among others.

As most of these practices are optional, the focus tends to be on certification rather than regulation, but since they’re an area directly impacted by consumer demand, they can produce immediate results for a company’s bottom line as purchasers seek out brands to meet their requirements.

The creation of the Consumer Goods Forum was a step in the right direction, which was instrumental in developing the Global Food Safety Initiative.  

“What the Consumer Goods Forum did for food safety standards twenty years ago is work we’re now doing for sustainability,” says Tamara Muruetagoiena, vice president of sustainability at the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA).

“At the culmination of this work, we look forward to sharing this information with our members to help them navigate and to make the best decisions for their companies.

“There are no cut-and-dried perspectives on what’s best or most valuable as it relates to sustainability, as there’s such a rich diversity of possible practices,” she adds, noting that while the forthcoming sustainability standards should be rigorous and consistent, they should accurately reflect a company’s specific goals and vision.

Tristan Simpson, founder and CEO of Tristan Michele Marketing, concurs that the benefits of certifications can vary depending on the type of certificate, the needs of a company, and the particular environment and situation in which it operates.

“Many markets have stringent requirements for the quality and safety of agricultural production,” she says. “Many certifications reflect newer trends in big ag, and a Regenerative Farming Certification is needed. There’s overlap for some certifications, and some exhibit misleading environmental claims.”

This is an excerpt from a feature story from the March/April 2024 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine.