BERLIN, 1st March 2016 – In an exciting move for the food industry, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) are expanding a long-term collaboration into a formal strategic partnership for large-scale capacity building programmes.

Building a fitting partnership

UNIDO is giving full attention to food safety as a key thematic area in their inclusive and sustainable industrial development initiative (ISID) where partnership with the private sector is a key instrument, making for a fitting cooperation with GFSI whose vision is safe food for consumers everywhere. As a confirmation of this commitment, the UNIDO has incorporated this cooperation with GFSI into the UNIDO Terms of Reference recently announced by Mr. Li Yong the UNIDO Director General. Both entities will jointly dedicate and mobilize resources in a strategic long-term plan to scale up food safety capacity building in priority regions.

This partnership builds on the successful collaborations between GFSI and UNIDO since 2009, and follows the outstanding achievements made under the recent sustainable supplier development project (SSDP) successfully implemented in Malaysia thanks to UNIDO and AEON, also based on GFSI Global Markets.

“To overcome global food safety challenges, we need to bring together the public and private sector, academia and international organizations and jointly deliver global solutions”, said LI Yong, the Director General of UNIDO at a meeting with GFSI delegation at the Vienna Food Safety Forum in September 2016. 

A Roadmap for Scaling Up 

Following the joint declaration made by UNIDO and GFSI during the China Focus Day on 1st November 2015, the roadmap that is currently being crafted is designed to implement food safety capacity building projects in a number of countries based on the GFSI Global Markets Programme. The Programme sets out how small and less developed food companies can meet the challenge of food safety, increase productivity and gain market access. This will be enabled by UNIDO. 

The new strategy will harness the focus of GFSI members, the interests of UNIDO and the maturity of GFSI in targeted geographies. Once launched, the programme will focus on key regions in the global food network, beginning with China, Africa, Middle East and Southeast Asia in a long-term roadmap approach.

  • In China, the partnership aims to coordinate efforts to work jointly towards establishing the China Food Safety Initiative (CFSI) and to scale up food safety capacity building for local food enterprises in China according to the UNIDO model on the Sustainable Supplier Development Programme (SSDP) from 2016 onwards.

  • In Africa, the project will benefit from a strong UNIDO presence to design and build a joint UNIDO-GFSI multi-country, multi-buyer project for Africa on capacity building.

  • In South East Asia, the ongoing discussions with key partners like the Food Industry Asia (FIA) and the Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP) are aiming to initiate a regional SSDP programme to scale up the UNIDO-AEON Malaysia SSDP programme into a multi-country and multi-buyer initiative. 

  • In the Middle East, a regional GFSI group is foreseen under the ongoing UNIDO regional food safety project to support the private sector role into the food safety harmonization efforts in the region. 

Milestones and Priorities

The ongoing discussions aim to deliver specific milestones and timelines to carry out the strategy, formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding ahead of the Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit taking place in South Africa this June 2016. Moving forward in the construction of this collaboration, GFSI is enthusiastic about the potential to have a bigger impact in a number of regions that act as critical links in the global food supply chain.


UNIDO is the specialised agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalisation and environmental sustainability. The Organization’s programmatic focus is structured in three thematic priorities, each of which represents different aspects of inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID) – creating shared prosperity, advancing economic competitiveness and safeguarding the environment. Each of these programmatic fields of activity contains a number of individual programmes, which are implemented in a holistic manner to achieve effective outcomes and impacts through UNIDO’s four enabling functions: (i) technical cooperation; (ii) analytical and research functions and policy advisory services; (iii) normative functions and standards and quality-related activities; and (iv) convening and partnerships for knowledge transfer, networking and industrial cooperation.    


The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is an industry-driven initiative providing thought leadership and guidance on food safety management systems necessary for safety along the supply chain. This work is accomplished through collaboration between the world’s leading food safety experts from retail, manufacturing and food service companies, as well as international organisations, governments, academia and service providers to the global food industry. They meet together at technical working group and stakeholder meetings, conferences and regional events to share knowledge and promote a harmonised approach to managing food safety across the industry. GFSI is facilitated by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global, parity-based industry network, driven by its members.