Over the last years, in the agri-food sector the large-scale retail companies have been adopting private certifications with the aim of controlling their suppliers. These certifications, through the definition of standards, registers and procedures, as well as of quality, safety and ethical food production, have become a strategic instrument in the governance of the agri-food supply chains. These standards and certifiations are adopted by suppliers on a «voluntary» basis; nonetheless, because of the oligopsonistic regime in the retail system, they represent an almost obligatory choice for farmers and companies that intend to access national and international food markets. The study focuses on the case of the GlobalGap certification, which is now predominant in the fresh fruit and vegetable sector. GlobalGap defines the Good Agricultural Practices concerning food safety, respect for the environment, safeguarding the health and well-being of workers. This article focuses on the impact of this certification system on the conditions of seasonal agricultural workers in Southern Italy. In particular, it analyses the progressive disarticulation of the system of public controls and shows the scarce effectiveness of such private standards in contrasting the spread of – often illegal – exploitation of workers in Italian agriculture.
Keywords: Private standards; Global value chains; Farm workers; Southern Italy.