How did HARPS begin?

In 2012 Horticulture Australia Ltd (now Hort Innovation) initiated a project to harmonise food safety certification requirements for the major retailers in Australia. The result of this project is the Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme (HARPS).

HARPS was an industry initiative. Industry approached Hort Innovation to ask for help in meeting multiple food safety schemes involved in supplying major retailers. Retailers agreed and were prepared to align their food safety requirements.

The initial HARPS project was funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd using across-industry levies and funds from the Australian Government. The scheme is voluntary and application for certification is open to all fresh produce businesses that supply the major grocery retailers. The project has been supported by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Food and Grocery Council.

Over time, HARPS transitioned from being a project funded by Hort Innovation to a standalone entity, generating its own finances, in May 2020. 

Who owns HARPS?

Hort Innovation initiated a series of projects to develop a process for achieving harmonisation of food safety requirements of the major grocery retailers and an auditor competency scheme, resulting in the development of HARPS. The first project started in 2011.

HARPS is a program that Hort Innovation owns and includes:

  • the HARPS Database;
  • ARPS branding including the HARPS Logo;
  • HARPS Website content; and
  • HARPS standards, checklists, rules, assessments, checklists, protocols, matrixes, etc.

Who manages HARPS?

One Direction ANZ is the entity responsible for the ongoing management of HARPS. Following a competitive tender process run by Hort Innovation, a Management Agreement (Licence) was awarded to One Direction ANZ in May 2020 to manage HARPS. The Management Agreement details performance requirements to be met by One Direction ANZ on a six-monthly basis.

The Role of the HARPS Technical Advisory Group

The HARPS Technical Advisory Group (H-TAG) is responsible for guiding and contributing towards the ongoing development of the HARPS Standard and associated technical documents, such as the Interpretive Guidance document and Scheme Rules.

The H-TAG aims to:

  • Review HARPS Elements: Current elements that have resulted in challenge or complaint are reviewed and amendments proposed to make sure they are practical and realistic;
  • Ongoing Improvement and Root-Cause Analysis: Learn from incidents (including recalls, withdrawals, or major non-conformances) and include proposing improvements in future revisions of HARPS to prevent / reduce the potential impact of any future incidents
  • Industry Approach: Ensure key decisions adopt a “whole of supply chain” and risk-based approach.
  • Horizon Scanning: Discuss upcoming food safety legislation and global issues as well as their impact on the industry.

Current membership is comprised of a broad cross-section of industry representatives, including grower-packers (large and small businesses), marketers, Certification Bodies, food safety scheme representatives, as well as industry association representatives and consultants. All members have deep technical experience from within the fresh produce industry.

We are currently looking for greater participation from Tier 2 growers, for further information or to apply to become a member please contact harps@harpsonline.com.au. The chart below shows current industry representation in the H-TAG: