As well as the financial and business operational planning we talked about last week, the other key areas in which agribusiness managers need to focus their planning efforts is in the area of product integrity and quality.
Product ‘integrity’ encompasses various considerations. These include, that the ‘product’:
We don’t have the time within this Unit to delve deeply into this significant area of management. What we want to do, however, is highlight to you:
We will discuss product integrity from two perspectives:
1) Product quality; and introducing the concept of ‘total quality management’ or TQM.
2) Product integrity, from a value-chain perspective and particularly in terms of traceability.
Why plan for product integrity?
Apart from our moral duty to ensure that our products are safe and authentic, there are 4 key reasons to consider product integrity.
1. Legal/Statutory requirements
There are myriad legislative requirements to ensure product integrity, particularly in the food industry. The key one to know about is the Food Standards Code, which we will look into further a little later.
2. Market access:
Many businesses require a quality assurance system in order to supply a business. For example, the major supermarkets require conformity with their quality assurance programs. Processors require their inputs to meet quality assurance schemes, for example the Livestock Production Assurance Program (LPA), which we will discuss later. As a supplier into a value chain, you are an integral part of someone else’s ‘total quality management’ system; your input is what contributes to the quality of their product, so you have to conform to their quality requirements.
3. Continuous improvement and product refinement
Monitoring, evaluating and refining your production systems can help identify savings in the costs of labour and direct input costs. More importantly from a product integrity perspective, continuous improvement in production systems and processes can help identify critical control points where loss of product integrity or quality can occur, enabling those problems to be fixed and thereby ensuring an overall increase in product quality.
4. Business reputation and sustainability
You won’t be in business for long if you produce a bad product. Conversely, if you’re known for your product integrity, you are more likely to thrive and survive well into the future. Attention to product authenticity and integrity helps ensure the sustainability of your business.
Portfolio Reflection, Week 5
Next time you bring your shopping home from the supermarket, have a look at the packaging and see what, if any, promotion is included about the quality management system utilised.
In your portfolio, reflect on these questions: Do food companies promote their quality management systems as part of their branding and marketing campaigns, or are they doing it to conform to legislative (e.g. Food Standards) or market access requirements?
For those products/companies that do promote their quality management system, what system do they use? Is it a HACCP-based system? You can search here for more information about the registration status of every manufacturer
Also reflect in your Portfolio on what you think about QMS, HACCP and ISO generally… Do you think it’s worthwhile? How would you go implementing a QMS in your workplace? Do you think it’s too onerous?