On 1 January 2021, Belpork vzw launched the renewed BePork quality standard. This new, generic quality system, an amalgamation of Certus and CodiplanPLUS, provides a response to current industry needs in addition to uniting all the operators in the pig industry. Liesbet Pluym, the quality assurance adviser and coordinator of the association, explains what people can expect from BePork.
Liesbet, can you refresh our memory and briefly explain what Belpork vzw does and how the organisation operates?
Belpork vzw is an interprofessional organisation, with national coverage, and was founded in 2000. All the operators in the pig industry are represented. So it is an initiative of the industry, for the industry. The association’s mission is to promote the quality of Belgian pork in a sustainable way, with innovative projects and through the management of quality systems. As such, the association creates added value for the promotion of Belgian pork. Our ambition, in everything we do, is to produce a qualitative and tasty product, with a competitive advantage on the national and international market.
Until recently, the Certus (for fresh pork) and Meesterlyck (for boiled and cured ham) quality labels were overseen by Belpork vzw. Approximately 60% of all Belgian pig farmers participate in this quality system, accounting for just under 80% of all pork production in Belgium. Today we are taking things one step further with the launch of BePork.
BePork is the result of the merger of Certus and CodiplanPLUS. Why is this a good thing?
Certus and CodiplanPLUS existed alongside each other for several years. Fresh pork was exported to Germany under the Certus certificate, whereas the CodiplanPLUS certificate facilitated live pig exports.
Both specifications include a set of norms that were more stringent than the legislation in place. BePork is a unique, generic quality manual, that combines all these norms. The emphasis is on animal welfare, sustainability and animal health. The integrated supply chain approach is definitely an asset in this framework.
BePork provides a solid basis, creating added value for the products and buyers.
Participants can organise audits more efficiently. It also offers more guarantees that the additional cost of potential higher-level quality standards will be compensated.
On the buyer and consumer side meanwhile, this approach inspires more trust. The system is transparent, clear and effective, because the majority of the industry is participating in it. Moreover, it was set up in such a way that other professional partners can set their own priorities. These are then incorporated in one single audit at minimal cost. The unification does not prevent differentiation, in other words.
Is BePork an additional asset for Belgian pork exports to other countries?
Like Certus and CodiplanPLUS, BePork’s objective is to be equivalent to other quality systems, such as the German QS. As such, exports of pork and live pigs to Germany are guaranteed by the same certificate, without additional requirements being imposed.
In addition to fresh meat, this system also includes carcases and by-products, which is relevant for third-country exports. In this respect, the label is definitely an asset that can facilitate Belgian pork exports.
If we meet again in three years, which ambition do you hope to have achieved?
Belpork vzw offers support for the promotion of Belgian pork by creating added value. Our definition of the concept of added value changes every day, it is a dynamic process. Our main ambition is to continue to push the boundaries, ensuring that the product that our participants produce with such passion continues to be relevant and distinctive, both in Belgium and abroad.