THE DISRUTIVE CASE FOR VERIFICATION
In recent years, the growing demand for responsibly sourced products, from both regulators and retailers, has created an unprecedented level of pressure on seafood supply chain stakeholders.
Seafood producers and exporters have been looking for answers and turned towards the numerous certification schemes with the aim to demonstrate transparency and product quality. Certification is a well-structured activity and has proven to add confidence on purchase for both consumers and industry.
However, the proliferation of schemes - with its plethora of certifiers and associated labels – has leaded the industry to more confusion than answers, more time and costs than effective resource allocations. Some certifications have taken years, and the fisheries have paid the auditing firms up to $150,000 to be certified. With no convincing plan to decrease the cost, the system has reached a limit, covering less than 15% of the seafood market worldwide.
Beyond the cost, an increasing numbers of scientists and non-governmental organizations have been raising objections to those certification schemes. The debate is quite complex and scientific, based on different definition and calculation, but it underlines the challenge behind certification and the potential flaws in a system that is supposed to be precise.
The debate includes the extent to which social impacts are either not or under-considered in current certification programs. It highlights the implications of greater certification coverage in the context of increased demand for certified seafood products.
Don't get us wrong, based on the urgency of the situation, buying certified seafood is still the best option.
The question turned to be: How to make certification accessible to the majority of producers, who are smallholders and cannot afford to pay for certification costs? How can we share those costs across the supply chain in a win-win approach?
With the development of new technologies, reliable data collection and analytics have been made possible. The triangulation of various data streams and the benchmark against specific standards make verification more inclusive, affordable and credible.
That is what we call “Verification”. It increases data availability, accessibility and accuracy, without a limited number of on site visits, reducing costs and improving on-going monitoring.
With the growing adoption and accuracy of those technologies, especially in Southeast Asia, such verification mechanism aims at disrupting the well established but costly and controversial certification market.