Good Perishables

Creating confidence in South Africa as an important destination

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Established in 1926, the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) has delivered valuable services to the perishable products industry for over 90 years by enhancing the credibility of the South African export certificate and supporting the export competitiveness of South Africa’s perishable product industries. We chatted to CEO Lucien Jansen to find out more about this vitally important service.

What is the extent of your coverage?

The PPECB currently performs inspections on 194 listed agricultural products and has 1752 producers registered on its system who provide produce destined for export to 87 countries. These inspections take place at 952 pack houses registered with the PPECB.

In addition, the PPECB also provides a cold chain management service whereby it monitors the temperature during the export process of 121 product types and for roughly 2.5 million pallets per year.

To carry out these services, we have 885 staff of which 420 are temporary and 465 are permanent. Due to the seasonal nature of the PPECB’s business, there is a high reliance on temporary staff in order for the PPECB to achieve its objectives. Of the 885 staff, 347 are inspectors and 231 are cold chain assessors.

How does this enhance the credibility of the South African export certificate?

The PPECB’s product inspections ensure that the quality, phytosanitary (excluding special markets) and marking requirements of produce intended for export are met. This is done by making use of suitably qualified and extensively trained inspectors, who conduct inspections against the minimum export quality standards and the requirements of the importing country. In addition the PPECB ensures that all produce intended for export, as well as all stages of handling, storing and transporting thereof, meets relevant food safety standards. All these processes provide assurance to importing countries that produce imported from South Africa meets their requirements as well as minimum food safety standards, thereby enhancing the credibility of the South African perishable product exports.

This in turn creates confidence in South Africa as an import destination, which assists South African exporters to position themselves as the preferred suppliers of perishable produce with international buyers, thereby supporting their competitiveness in the international market.

The PPECB is furthermore an ISO 9001:2015 accredited organization, which lends further credibility to our internal procedures and processes.

ISO 9001: 2015, developed and published by ISO (International Organisation of Standardisation), is recognised by organisations worldwide as a quality management standard which provides principles for organisations aimed at ensuring customers receive consistently high quality products and services. The standard is also used by external parties to assess the organisation’s ability to meet statutory and regulatory requirements applicable to the organisation’s mandate. This accreditation indicates that our processes have been independently verified and underlines our commitment to deliver a quality service. This lends credibility to the manner in which we conduct our business and provides assurance to our clients, as well as international stakeholders, that the PPECB is committed to quality and outstanding customer service.

What important quality-control trends has the PPECB been monitoring?

The PPECB continuously scans the environment in order to keep up to date with the latest global trends in the perishable export sector and thus, with the blessing of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, attends international meetings where continuous discussions are held on quality requirements for agricultural products such as the meetings of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Currently the PPECB is cognisant of the changing weather patterns and the tremendous impact this is having on the agricultural industry.

There are certain quality defects that are associated with specific products which are often exacerbated and impacted by external factors. Although we are aware of these it is often difficult to predict what will happen as no two seasons are the same. As an example, the recent drought put the trees under tremendous strain which in turn had an impact on the internal quality, yield and sizing of several products.

Where does the CEO fit in?

PPECB’s position within the industry requires it to communicate with a diverse pool of stakeholders. I thus see the role of the CEO as placing a priority on stakeholder management, collaboration and integration to ensure that the industry as a whole achieves its objectives and South Africa remains competitive on international markets. I further believe it is essential for the PPECB to keep abreast with latest trends and requirements, as to ensure that the South African export industry remains compliant.

PPECB recently received a certificate of recognition from the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) for its record of clean audits for five consecutive years. What does this mean to you?

The award is a tremendous source of pride for us as we believe it highlights our commitment to sound financial management practices. Furthermore, it is testament to the commitment of both management and staff to compliance with relevant legislation, policies and procedures.

Lucien Jansen, CEO

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