International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

The Rise and Rise of Eurep-GAP: European Re(Invention) of Colonial Food Relations?

International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Volume 13, issue 2 (2002), pages 1-19

Author: Hugh Campbell
Affiliation: Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

ISSN: 0798-1759


Abstract

This article examines the development and potential consequences of the emergence of the new fruit and vegetable audit system EurepGAP. Emerging in 1999, EurepGAP brought together an alliance of retailers, producers, science and NGOs to provide a comprehensive ‘super audit’ of food safety and environmental sustainability in European supply chains. The article examines the context in which EurepGAP emerged; the particular audit technologies and their key consequences; and the broad alliance of interests that has provided significant legitimacy for the new system. In particular, EurepGAP is examined as a particularly powerful form of new ‘audit culture’. Close examination reveals the highly Euro-centric vision of EurepGAP and the potential consequences of this as a mechanism of inclusion/exclusion for fruit and vegetable suppliers to Europe. The New Zealand kiwifruit industry is used to demonstrate the powers of inclusion created by EurepGAP. Leveraging upon 150 years of ecological and social construction of the New Zealand farmscape, the Zespri kiwifruit has become a powerful exemplar of the ‘right’ kind of food product for Europe. By implication, EurepGAP has created a narrow gate for entry in front of many other less well-situated suppliers of fruit and vegetables to the European marketplace.

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