According to Richard Werran, managing director of Cert-ID Europe: “Pakistan is very much a politically closed country, and this presents its own set of challenges when you have a very diverse and fragmented system. But there is still good business to be had, and Pakistan certainly hasn't been written off as a supplying country for other nations.”
Supply chain assurance
Until now, Turkish standards auditor KASCert had been directly assessing its clients’ standards in Pakistan for BRC certification, which enhances their chances in supplying to British and European retail markets. But once KASCert’s contract ended with the BRC programme, the company turned to Cert-ID to handle certification for its clients in Pakistan.
“Supply chain assurance is necessary in Pakistan. KASCert has very good auditors and great relationships with food producers that now give us access to Pakistan. This would be otherwise problematic to Western companies like ourselves,” explained Werren.
“We'll do all the certification decisions, KASCert will do all the audits and provide us with their reports. It involves quite a variety of clients that are mostly in primary produce - rice products and the like. Rather than finished food products, we will cover mostly agricultural products and particularly rice, which is exported to the West.”
At the moment, political stability is among the most pressing issues for Pakistan's food industry.
“I'm sure an export-led growth is going to bring about prosperity within Pakistan, but it still remains to be seen how open a nation it can be, and also how the relationship between India and pakistan will play out,” continued Werran.
“When you have a country like Pakistan, which is full of opportunities and promise, it has been suffering set-backs through political instability. But the export trade can bring about similar food industry growth to what we've seen in India.”
One sizeable factor that has helped South Asian countries to improve their focus on sustainable methods - one of Cert-ID’s key areas of focus - has been the arrival in these countries of international brands bringing their own integrated policies on, say, child labour and water use.
According to Werran, this influx that has left a lasting footprint that has done more to change local views on sustainability than governmental policy has achieved.
“As long as Western nations can access its companies and products, the drive to meet new standards can help what Pakistan is trying to do. On a world scale, they have fallen behind where India is at this point,” he concedes.
“It will be interesting to see how this will play out in terms of continuing to bring global sustainability policies, which are primarily driven by major brands.”