NIGERIA – The Nigerian Exports Promotion Council (NEPC) has called upon food exporters in the country to adopt global certifications in a bid to strengthen market access of their products at the global market.

Mr Segun Awolowo, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, NEPC highlighted that exportable food products needed to strive to acquire additional non-mandatory certifications in order to compete at the global market.

Speaking during a recently held training programme on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) in Lagos, he said that the certifications are required to penetrate the international market for processed value-added products, particularly food items.  

“Non-mandatory certifications (such as ISO, HACCP and Good Manufacturing Practises) are global certifications, trusted by consumers and end-users of products and services, and are attained, based on the reputation of the certifying bodies,” he said.

Mr Segun explained that the HACCP system, which is science-based and systematic, identifies specific hazards and measures for their control to ensure the safety of food.

“HACCP is a tool to assess hazards and establish control systems that focus on prevention rather than relying mainly on end-product testing.

“HACCP is important because it prioritises and controls potential hazards in food processes.

“By controlling major food risks, such as microbiological, chemical and physical contaminants, the industry can better assure consumers that its products are as safe and as good as science and technology allow,” he added.

The council highlighted the advantages of HACCP and other food safety certifications to include compliance with customer and applicable regulatory requirements and presents an effective quality system recognition.

The certifications also allow provision of competitive advantage, improvement in product and company’s image, enhancing the reputation of the company, and increased revenue generation through increased sales.

“We are looking at value-addition for our products. Our export strength is in the area of processed foods and we are exploring how to improve the quality.

Beyond the mandatory requirements, we are also exploring the non-mandatory requirements that will aid access to global markets,” Awolowo said.

TopCertifier, an Indian-based global certification body, was also in the training programme targeting selected food processors and exporters on the HACCP certification.

NEPC said this would enable them to embrace the basic rudiments of food safety for their products, reports Independent.

Besides, NEPC noted that the European Union (EU) ban on dried beans from Nigeria would soon be lifted as necessary conditions and requirements have been met, adding that the nation is at the final hurdle and awaits the decision of the trade bloc.