Partnering fresh produce with retail - Quality assurance Harmonization (AH12016)
This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.
What was it all about?
The aim of this project was to leverage the strength, size and positioning of the horticulture industry to make a tangible difference to growers in Australia. Rather than use funds for individual projects where the impact of projects could become diluted, the intention was to harness the scale opportunities that the Across Industry Committee (AIC) could generate through a single project.
The aim of Project AH12009 was to engage the major grocery retailers and Quick Serve Restaurants (QSR) in Australia in order to identify and recommend a solution to deliver a harmonised Quality Assurance (QA) standard. A harmonised QA standard would minimize the need for growers to require multiple certifications to satisfy different retailers. Achieving commonality in the certification standards that were required by retailers reduced the number of audits required by individual growers and provided an immediate cost saving, as well as reduce the significant ongoing indirect costs associated with meeting multiple standards.
The outcomes from this project particularly benefited the smaller growers that were increasingly struggling to maintain profitable businesses, but ultimately cost savings would flow through the supply chain and also benefit the retailers, QSRs and consumers themselves.
The project included engaging and aligning key stakeholders to support the development of an agreed harmonised QA standard, with the identification and recommendation of the most preferred solution. The stakeholders included the major grocery retailers, namely Woolworths, Coles, ALDI, Costco and IGA, and McDonald’s Australia. The fresh produce market share covered by the major grocery retailers was 79.9 per cent of the total Australian retail market (Nielsen 2015).
The key outcomes from this project were the development of solutions for:
- Single audits that satisfied the food safety requirements of all the major grocery retailers in Australia;
- The harmonisation of multiple retailer-‐specific requirements that provided efficiencies for growers and producers;
- Growers and producers began being able to choose from a suite of internationally recognised (GFSI benchmarked) standards;
- Only auditors that had completed the GFSI Auditor Competency Scheme requirements to be approved to conduct audits. For growers and packers, this would ensure consistency and alignment in the audit process;
- Continued assurance in the food safety systems of fresh produce grown in Australia.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) and funds from the Australian Government.
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