Analysis of the national agricultural and food quality system and preparation of recommendations for improvement


Project no.: MT-20-11
Project website:

Project description:

The National Agricultural and Food Quality System (hereinafter – the NCP system) has been operating in Lithuania since 2007. The quality of the products produced under this system (hereinafter referred to as NCP products) exceeds the safety, animal and plant health, animal welfare or environmental protection requirements of these products established by the European Union and national legislation and/or which, due to the use of certain farming or production methods, have special characteristics . NKP products are marked with a special mark “Quality”. The expert committee of the NCP system, approved by order of the Minister of Agriculture, examines the drafts of the specifications, which set out the requirements for NCP production and/or cultivation, NCP certification and other related documents, and submits conclusions to the NCP system council, which was formed in accordance with the principle of equality from science, industry, trade, consumers and representatives of state institutions, examines draft documents and submits proposals to the Minister of Agriculture for their approval. NCPs are certified and supervised by an accredited certification body – Public institution “Ekoagros”. According to the data of 2019-12-31 public institution “Ekoagros”, only 354 economic entities are certified, most of which are fruit, vegetable and berry growers and beekeepers, although specifications have been prepared for 10 product groups. In order to encourage manufacturers to join the NCP system, it is necessary to carry out a scientific analysis of it, preparing recommendations for improving the requirements.

Project funding:

Project is funded according to the Programme for the Promotion of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, measure “Funding research and experimental development work”, sub-measure “Support for applied research”

Project results:

1. After the analysis of the valid national food labeling systems of the EU countries: Germany, Slovenia and Latvia, it was determined:
1.1. All the examined labeling systems emphasize the reference to the origin of the raw materials of the certified product and/or the place of origin of the processing and the reliable control of the labeling system. In national quality labeling systems, additional criteria are set for the quality of the certified product. Slovenia’s specifications are more complex and less clear than Latvia’s.
1.2. All labeling systems are initiated by the ministries of agriculture of those countries. The management structure in Latvia is in the hands of the state, there are no expert commissions or advisory councils. The governance structure of Slovenia is similar to the governance structure of the Lithuanian NCP system, except that there is no council.
1.3. The certification process is controlled, the requirements for certification institutions in Slovenia meet the criteria established in the Lithuanian NCP system. In Latvia, the entire certification process and control is carried out by the State Food Veterinary Service.
1.4. Applicants must meet the requirements of the labeling systems and have supporting documents.
1.5. The certification procedure of the national quality labeling systems has similarities with the certification procedure of the Lithuanian NCP system, and the control is carried out at least once a year.
1.6. Labeling systems emphasize the clear origin of raw materials and/or product processing.
1.7. The food labeling system is popular and successful if it indicates the clear origin of the product and the high quality of the product. There are no requirements for the process, which burdens the producers and does not create value for the consumer. The high popularity of the marking system is in Latvia, where the publicity of this system is consistent, long-term and carried out by one institution.
1.8. The communication strategy must be consistent and funded, while the labeling system must be clear and understandable to the manufacturer and the consumer.

2. When evaluating the compliance of products manufactured according to the national agricultural and food quality system (NKP) and the “Quality” mark with market trends, consumer attitudes and their purchasing behavior, and producers’ capabilities, it was established:
2.1. A survey of Lithuanian consumers, in which 392 respondents participated, showed that:
2.1.1 Consumers are not yet well acquainted with the national quality system: they are characterized by relatively low attention to food quality labels (except for the National “Organic Agriculture” and EU organic product labels) when purchasing agricultural and food products. 46.9% of respondents stated that they know the brand of national quality products.
2.1.2. The level of attractiveness of the NKP brand is low: a small number of consumers identify it as a memorable, clear and purposeful brand of food products.
2.1.3. The level of awareness of the NKP brand is low: consumers have not only a low level of awareness of the NKP brand, but also a low level of understanding of it. Incorrect interpretations of the meaning of the NKP mark indicate that consumers do not have sufficient knowledge about the NKP mark. It is likely that the low level of perception, awareness and understanding of the NKP brand could explain why only a small part of the respondents (34.4%) have bought NKP brand products and a slightly larger part (44.9%) are doubtful (not sure) whether they have bought them.
2.1.4. Consumers’ behavioral intentions are related to the importance given by consumers to health and wellness, the price-quality ratio, Lithuanianness, when Lithuanian raw materials are used in the production of the product and production in Lithuania, and environmental protection.
2.2. A producer survey with 195 respondents: 76 farmers, 75 manufacturers, 37 traders, 7 others showed:
2.2.1. The current NCP-controlled production chain is too long, i.e. The requirements of the NKP system are set for too large a part of the production process, and the requirements for the NKP system are too high, the financial support provided by the state for the promotion of NKP production and the publicity of the NKP brand is insufficient, the NKP brand does not provide a competitive advantage in the market.
2.2.2. The NKP brand is partly characterized by features that create added value and are clear. For all other attributes, respondents’ answers vary between having no opinion and partially disagreeing.
2.2.3. Evaluating the effectiveness of the NCP system depends on the extent to which the producer is already involved in this system. Producers who do not participate in the NKP system, compared to already existing NKP producers, tend to more critically evaluate the requirements of the NKP, the adequacy of publicity and communication of the NKP brand, and the advantage in the market.
2.2.4. The producers singled out the most important factors that would provide/provide added value to the buyer of agricultural and/or food products if the products were/are certified in the NKP system: healthiness, Lithuanianness, when Lithuanian raw materials are used in the production of the product and production in Lithuania, environmental protection, and popularity.
3. After carrying out the analysis of the qualitative study of the certification body into the national agricultural and food quality system, it was determined:
3.1. Due to the excessive number of specialists from different fields, the decisions made by the collegial bodies are not effective and the dissemination of information becomes a complicated process. Work on public grounds does not receive sufficient involvement, as well as when issues of narrow specialization are considered, they are relevant only to the person who represents that area. As a result, amendments to the legal act take a long time, which prevents timely improvement of the rules, and the process is inefficient and bureaucratic.
3.2. Most of the requirements of the NKP system do not create added value for the consumer and do not differentiate the product from conventional products on the market.
3.3. The scheme of the certification system is not refined, because the requirements for the process are mixed with the requirements for the product. Also, the requirements are not consistent, some of them are relatively expensive and difficult to control. It is often not clear what real benefits and value they bring to the product.
3.4. A large part of the requirements are of a technical nature, so the laboratory tests required to confirm their compliance are expensive, there is a shortage of raw materials, and the production chain controlled by the NCP system is too long.

Period of project implementation: 2020-07-13 - 2020-11-10

Project coordinator: Kaunas University of Technology

Project partners: Public agency “Healthy”

Laura Daniusevičiūtė-Brazaitė

2020 - 2020

Academic Centre of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities