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Historical document

Partnering fresh produce with retail - Quality assurance Harmonization (AH12016)

Key research provider: Kitchener Partners
Publication date: May, 2015

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Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.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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Funding statement:
This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) and funds from the Australian Government.

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2015. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).