Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the profile and the improvements that food exporting Colombian companies made to their FSMS in order to break into the US markets and determine if the benefits created by the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) have motivated food companies to export.
Methods: An on-line survey was conducted among 113 (non-coffee) food exporting Colombian companies from PROCOLOMBIA’s list, the official database of international sales for non-traditional goods and services in Colombia. Data was analyzed by using descriptive statistics to depict frequencies following methods of histograms, bar graphs and distribution tables.
Results: The total survey response rate was 35.4%. The most common FSMS implemented by Colombian food exporters was Good Manufacturing Practices (87.5%), followed by Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (50%), but there was a tendency to adopt two or more FSMS. One of the most important conditions that had to be improved was food safety education; nevertheless, the most costly investment was in maintenance of buildings and equipment. Companies made improvements mostly by contracting with food safety consultants and benefits of FTA influenced only 20% of companies to export.
Significance: This study was the first one to evaluate FSMS among Colombian food exporters and show detailed information about conditions that were necessary to enhance the FSMS to comply food safety requirements in order to reach the US market. Results also indicate that FTA has motivated a low number of companies since most of them were already exporting to the US before this agreement took effect.