Enhancing the quality of agricultural products by setting up Short Food Supply Chain under the EVFTA
The Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) has now come into force which shall bring up tremendous opportunities to promote the export of Vietnamese agricultural products to EU’s market. Accordingly, 71 percent of EU imports from Vietnam will be tariff-free from the moment the EVFTA takes effect, rising to over 99 percent across the next seven years. The reduction of import tariffs supports the expansion of the export market of Vietnam agricultural products such as rice, sugar, honey, vegetables and seafood, creating favorable conditions for Vietnamese agricultural products to access to the market of 27 EU member countries. However, Vietnamese enterprises and cooperatives will face many challenges related to requirements on food safety, animal and plant quarantine measures, Rules of Origin, Geographical Indication Protection, etc. Enhancing the quality of agricultural products through and by an effective food supply channel/chain is expected to support Vietnamese agricultural products to meet requirements stated in the EVFTA in relation to the food safety traceability.
Sustainable short food supply chains are defined as food systems with direct producer-consumer relations including different types of direct sales such as farm outlets, farmer’s markets, local food shops or spatially extended for exporting. SFSCs are often perceived as a way to implement a more sustainable food system that provides healthier and better quality food with reasonable prices, more value added to the food producers and environmental protection. SFSCs can also be seen as means to restructure food chains in order to support sustainable farming methods and generate resilient farm based livelihoods.
Short Food Supply Chains (SFSC) is characterized by few intermediaries between producer and consumer; sometimes producers distribute products directly to consumers. The short food supply chain aims to provide consumers with products that reflect characteristics such as: local identity, nature, healthiness and trust worthiness (Luane et al., 2018) Policies and/or regulations to encourage the development of sustainable short food supply chains is so far still absent to a large degree in Vietnam. Also, the direct linkage among farmers and agricultural enterprises/cooperatives remains weak with lots of intermediaries in between that lead to the missing of requirements for food safety and traceability.
A growing body of literature on food supply chains show that the influence of the free trade agreement (FTAs) from the past have a strong impact on the development of SFSC. This is especially relevant for the post-socialist countries and EU member’s states. Several studies on SFSCs have been implemented in the European Union such as Poland, France and Germany, etc.