ECHOcommunity Conversations

How to set up a FSMA/HACCP certified facility for food exportation to the USA


#1

Can anyone give me some guidance?

I am in the planning phase for developing a small dried mango operation in Haiti. I just learned that the operation must meet the FDA’s FSMA (Food Safety and Modernization Act) requirements to successfully export. These are a set of rules used to prevent foodborne illness. They are the same, regardless of the country of origin.

I understand it includes having both a food safety and a quality control program in place. There needs to be regular training of employees and testing of the product, plus an action plan if a problem is encountered. Anyways, I was researching the FDA website https://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/fsma/ucm334115.htm and the amount of info there is really overwhelming. I can see a lot of it probably not relevant to my situation. Before I go digging through it all, I thought maybe there is someone who can help guide me.

Any ideas? Do you know of anyone familiar with this topic? A dried fruit export would be great, but someone with any experience with FSMA would be helpful.

Thanks!
Roger


#2

I am very interested in this very topic, as it is likely that we will soon also be looking into some product development with dried fruits. Our farm is near Cite Soleil, where are you located?


#3

We are near Mirebalais, Haiti. I have met with a business called Perry Exports that sells fresh, organic mangoes to Wholefoods. There is a possibility to collaborate with them. For example, they have plenty of good mangoes for dehydration that cannot be sold fresh because of blemishes. There might be an opportunity to get a delivery from them, then process the fruit and they’ll come back and pick it up.

But I’ve done enough research to see that this is a pretty complicated, and expensive start up. I would be totally interested in joining together in some way, if you are serious and have the time and energy to put into it. Possibly the process for multiple facilities could be simplified if we formed a single cooperative. Then we only need one certification. Just an idea.

By the way, I’ll be in Port au Prince tomorrow late morning to meet with Perry Exports. You are welcome to come. You can find me on Whatsapp from my USA number +1-586-838-0404.


#4

Very interested in this conversation. Following.


#5

I have an update. I’ve spoken with a couple reliable sources. The best one was a representative from Perry Exports. He explained that there before getting the HACCP certification (this is the one for FSMA) most people hire a consultant to help put together the following things:

  1. Food analysis from an third party lab in the USA (this gives you the nutritional info)
  2. Food safety plan in writing which outlines the exact way you process that one particular food product and the one particular facility where it is made. How you identify particular risks and mediate them. It also needs to include regular staff training.
  3. Food quality control plan in writing.

After all this is done, then you have to hire a company to come and do a physical visit for the official certification. There are no such companies with offices in Haiti. But SCS Global comes at least on an annual basis, and is the company Perry Exports uses. https://www.scsglobalservices.com/.

The initial certification is usually the toughest and most expensive. The price varies on the size of your operation. I was not able to get an estimate, but can easily imagine this is thousands of dollars. After that, an annual certification is required, which is usually easier and less expensive. I plan to write to SCS global and see if they will provide a ballpark estimate, so I can get a feel for what size operation is needed to be able to meet the recurring fees.

If this wasn’t a complicated enough process, if you wish to have a different food item, plan on repeating all the steps for it! Including an entirely new certification, which must be renewed annually. If you want to have 2 facilities manufacturing the same item, I believe they can be all certified with the same certificate, but a separate food safety and quality control plan is needed for each facility. Likely the price of the single certification goes up a bit, with multiple locations.

If you want organic or fair trade certification, they have a separate process. Organic is apparently by far the most expensive.

What I learned from all of this, is that there really needs to be a serious and committed team to run such a business. Most of the work appears to be upfront. My plan now is just to build and do some testing with the hybrid solar dryer. I think it will be tricky to produce a consistent product, but I think it is worth exploring. If successful, then I will look into this certification and export. My gut feeling is that the small community operation I am planning will not be big enough to support the complicated and expensive export process. Plus I’m really only interested in going through all this hassle, if I know it will help many of the people here.

I think this whole business could really succeed with a multi-community cooperative operation. If anyone reading this works closely with a Haitian community and is interested in forming a cooperative, please let me know. My time frame at this point is to have the solar dryer making some test product April or May 2019. I suppose 1-2 years after that, if things go well, it could be reasonable to be exporting. Even if this is not fair trade certified, it is important to me that the most of the income goes to the actual people doing the work. I feel that everyone should be valued more or less equal for their time and efforts. So the people doing the peeling and drying should get paid a similar amount as the ones doing administrative work (maybe even more! :slight_smile: ).

By the way, although I am happy to help get this off the ground, I have no desire to be a business member myself. My goal is to hand over the operation, at least the part in Mirebalais, to the locals that have proven to be trustworthy after I can see they no longer need me.


#6

You many find this report on the Haitian Mango Industry from 2013 helpful :
https://www.echocommunity.org/resources/12bc53c3-9a99-4ef4-9db7-9bd7aee25fe3


#7

Dear Roger,
I need a little more time to reply with information on Food Safety, GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices), and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) principles that is practical and not overwhelming. But I wanted to let you know about an upcoming training event from the Safe Food Alliance that may be of interest: Intro to HACCP Training Course.
Thanks for bringing this important topic/question to the ECHO Community, so we can look for practical information, tools and training that can help us be better equipped.
Kind regards,

Cecilia

P.S.: I just read your latest update. Glad you have a bit more clarity on the process. We may be able to connect you with people who have relevant experience or contacts in this area. It would be great to be in touch by email as well. Feel free to email me at cgonzalez@echonet.org.


#8

I’m very interested to learn how successful the dehydration is and the extent of the involvement of the growers/sellers. I’m not wanting to discourage the effort to export a dried product, but have you also considered the idea of helping to develop the market in country - not only dried but maybe other methods of preservation such as jam or juices. The same approach could also apply to other perishable fruits and vegetables whereby the dried produce is marketed as convenience food or sold to NGO’s as locally sourced instead of them importing food aid.


#9

I was told there was no local market for dried fruit. But since then I’ve learned otherwise. I connected with a facility in the South of the country that makes something like 4 tons of dried mango every year. All of it is sold locally. That is great news, because local sales will be much simpler. So that is our goal for now.

The Haitians love to make jams from fruit. That is a popular business. We plan to do that as well (and peanut butter). There are some juice makers. From what I understand, that requires more machinery. I’m looking for products that can be made small scale. Similar to your farmer’s market items in the USA.

I also have the idea to dry veggies and compile them into a soup mix. I would totally buy that. I didn’t mention that on this thread because it is a little of topic. If you have any other specific ideas, I’m all ears!

I can see we think a like. I hope someday to report back that the people of this community were largely (if not completely) involved in the growing, processing and sales of their products. That is my goal!


#10

Hi Roger, I work for the US Dept of Ag and may have some contacts that could provide more info. Check https://www.aibonline.org/Start-Your-Training/Food-Safety-Quality/FSMA/FSMA-The-Pathway-to-Compliance and other training provided by AIB. There are located here in Manhattan, KS. I have a contact that used to work there that may be able to answer some of your questions. I have experience setting up quality labs for grains, but not for dried fruit. Let me know if I can pass on some leads. The issue of measuring quality is certainly an important topic if countries like Haiti are going to export commodities.


#11

Hey Floyd,

I’ll take you up on that offer. Please send anyone who might help my way. I’ll still early in the planning phase, so some good advice could save a lot of headache.

Feel free to give out my email: rgietz@hotmail.com

Thanks!
Roger


#12

Update for this thread.

I connected with SCS global (https://www.scsglobalservices.com/). A company that does HACCP certification and travels to Haiti. An initial cert costs between $1500-2000 PLUS travel expenses. They are agreeable to lower travel expenses if you are able to coordinate with an existing trip. Unfortunately this cert needs annual renewal. I didn’t get an exact quote on that, but I think it is a little less expensive.

Remember, a HACCP is needed for every site where food is processed. So this means it is nearly impossible for small farmers to export to the USA. I do believe there is an undeveloped local Haitian market for them to investigate.

These days I’m starting up a community center operation, which if successful could potentially export. But the next hurdle is making enough product to meet the buyers needs. One step at a time! :slight_smile:


#13

Hi Roger, I’ve been through this before with our fresh hop extract product made in WA, USA. A few things we went through you should know as it may apply. You may be able to get cert from the state your importing to from their agency, based on the plan, or ship mangoes to a state for processing (in a toll food processing plant like in Jersey) as unprocessed food may be easier to get into US. A tolling plant charges for what you produce but they maintain all the certifications and it can be cheaper, or easier to get rolling until you can afford your own facilities and compliance. For instance, there is a plant in WA that powders fruit for growers, and another in Oregon that uses high liquid compression to kill microbes in food within flexible plastic containers, such as juice, avocados, mango paste etc. You may never be able to buy a factory like that but you can pay to get your product through it and on the shelf.

Processing and retailing in US, requires many different licenses, inspections, insurances and documented plans of practice. We found as many farmers have, that the laws are effectively created to prevent small farmers from entering the market. Even the largest veggie plant in the pacific NW closed due to legal issues related to compliance difficulty. Since the legal requirements to comply require hiring a part time specialist in both food processing and law. And require facilities that “can” comply with food safety which are very expensive. The plant requested by WA state for our product would be a min of $70,000 to build and it’s small. Storage facility another 20K min. So we just closed the company instead since we could never compete with imported products.

Have you considered other markets instead which may be easier to import into? I bet their are countries that pay top dollar and are easier to work with and meet compliance.

Another idea we’ve noticed works well is partnering with others on a facility within a co-op mindset. With enough people you can overcome the limitations of small operations and be able to compete on the shelf.


#14

Hi Derrick,

Thanks for sharing your insights. Since my last post, I’ve had a promising breakthrough that is opening the door for a local Haitian dried fruit operation.

I’ve met the people who run Blue Mangoes: https://www.bluemangoesfruit.com/ They specialize in helping cooperatives in developing countries set up small, inexpensive fruit drying facilities. When the quality of product is adequate, they then purchase it and take care of all the rest of the work (exporting, marketing, connecting with sellers in the USA).

They require the small facility to be run by a cooperative in the developing country and that half of the members are women.

I will still have to go through the cert process which costs thousands of dollars as mentioned before. But this is promising to me to know that there is a market and that income can be expected.

Maybe for some products your idea to export the fruit unprocessed will work, but for mangoes it is still expensive and complicated. I’ve met with a mango exporter in Haiti and they explained it to me. The mangoes have to be collected and shipped in a short period of time. They must be shipped in a refrigerated container. This is expensive and requires large quantities (at least I am not aware of any small quantity options). Failure to follow these guidelines can result in a large batch of bad mangoes being shipped.

So at the moment, I’m moving forward with a collaboration with Blue Mango, but am still open for other ideas if better ones come about.

Thanks again for your input.