UNECE through its Working Party on Agricultural Quality Standards (WP.7) and its specialized sections, develops internationally agreed commercial quality standards for agricultural produce, helps with their interpretation and promotes their practical application. The standards are based on existing national standards, industry and trade practices. They are reviewed and amended on a regular basis and new standards are developed as required. In this process, UNECE cooperates with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to ensure that the standard-setting process is consistent with WTO rules, as well as with other standard-setting bodies, such as the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission to avoid duplication of work and divergence in standards.
UNECE harmonizes the application of its standards internationally by developing and disseminating explanatory and guidance material also in collaboration with the OECD Scheme for the Application of International Standards for Fruit and Vegetables which prepares explanatory brochures to interpret UNECE Standards. In addition, UNECE defines and promotes uniform quality-control procedures, the use of the model quality-conformity certificate.
UNECE works with governments, governmental and intergovernmental organizations, civil society and the private sector on sustainable production and consumption. In addition, UNECE develops guidance material to improve the quality traded along the entire supply chain and on related issues such as minimum quality requirements, food waste reduction, traceability, and good practice. UNECE regularly organizes seminars, workshops and training courses for governments and the private sector to help them develop standards and establish legal and technical infrastructure for their implementation and practical application. In view of the ever-growing international trade in agricultural produce, any member of the United Nations or of one of its specialized agencies can participate, on an equal footing, in the activities of the Working Party on Agricultural Quality Standards.
Today, over 100 standards have been adopted for the purpose of facilitating international trade (see list of agricultural quality standards). UNECE's international commercial quality standards cover a wide range of perishable products, including fresh fruit and vegetables, dry and dried produce, seed potatoes, eggs and egg products, meat and cut flowers.
As of 17 November 2017