The increasing attention of consumer to the issue of food safety has led European Union to regard the achievement of high standards of security and quality as a strategic priority for the agrifood system. The whole chain of production is therefore called for a careful and continuous innovation that grants, in addition to commercial needs, respect to European regulations and national laws that imposed to safeguard public health. So, the question of food quality and security has become a priority also in the fisheries sector and this research focuses on economic issues related to the introduction of these policies in the Wholesale Fish Market in Milan. The work intends primarily to monitor the flow of products through the market of Milan, studying their amounts in terms of sales, variety of species and method of production. Then, the economic and organizational aspects of the haccp System are analyzed. The study consequently develops in two stages: the first phase identifies the trade and management peculiarities of the companies operating in the market, the second focuses on protocols and methods applied to ensure the fish products safety and the costs necessary for their implementation. Through data collected from wholesalers referring to the period 2005-2006, the study reports origin and type of products in term of purchases and sales of fished and farmed supplies. Information on retailers were then collected through a questionnaire, allowing them to be classified by size considering the quantity and type of products traded, the number of employees, turnover, customers treated and location of suppliers. Finally profit and loss accounts of the companies has been studied, pinpointing the various items of cost in order to estimate those related to the haccp System application. The standards for food safety applied by the operators in distribution platforms such as the Fish Market in Milan, may provide competitive advantage to those able to exploit the system of documentation involved. Indeed, the implementation costs seem low in comparison with the help which haccp and its traceability system could bring into business management. In a reality made up of many small farms like the one analyzed, introducing new laws creates often pratical and economic problems; for this reason the eu regulations should be interpreted as useful protocols for security and quality management, rather than a list of prescriptions.
Keywords: Wholesale fish market, Food safety, haccp implementation costs and opportunities.
Jel Code: L11, Q18