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#1 steve austin

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 05:20 PM

Hello all,

For a food manufacturer what do you think is the minimum size a company could be and still be able to meet all the investment & compliance requirements for IFS certification?

Given that many of the clauses relate to "Senior management" and "Board of Directors", etc, do you think that IFS is only achievable by large, well funded companies?

Is there any auditor out there who has had an experience in auditing a small company successfully?

This interests me from an entrepreneurial view-point as well as a philosophical thought on the effects of globalisation.

Please feel free to state your opinions.

Thanks,

Steve.


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#2 Simon

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 02:20 PM

Hello all,

For a food manufacturer what do you think is the minimum size a company could be and still be able to meet all the investment & compliance requirements for IFS certification?

Given that many of the clauses relate to "Senior management" and "Board of Directors", etc, do you think that IFS is only achievable by large, well funded companies?

Is there any auditor out there who has had an experience in auditing a small company successfully?

This interests me from an entrepreneurial view-point as well as a philosophical thought on the effects of globalisation.

Please feel free to state your opinions.

Thanks,

Steve.

Hello Steve, I believe the standards are created to be applicable to any size of organisation. The clauses that relate to senior management and the board of directors may well be just one or two people in a micro business and the systems need not be overly bureaucratic as long as the requirements are met.

Standards such as BRC and IFS were developed to help businesses comply with the law and provide safe food consistently and the need to do this is no less in a small company as a big one. Every business that supplies food must have a clear technical understanding of the food products they supply and also the inherent risks and control measures needed to keep them safe.

Obviously in a small company this knowledge is often lacking so quite often consultants are utilised for technical assistance. However it is managed it must be done, just like health and safety of people must be done. Of course it does add cost but hopefully being a modern, professional and safe company can help to keep and attract new business and avoid any costs from when things go wrong related to poor food safety e.g. wastage, product recalls, fines and litigation.

Just my opinion – by the way welcome to the forums. :smile:

Regards,
Simon
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#3 steve austin

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 09:37 PM

Hi Simon,

thanks for your reply and expertise, it's much appreciated. However i do feel the need to debate some of your points.

First is the statement that BRC and IFS were developed to help businesses comply with the law. BRC and IFS were developed by large retailers to help themselves. BRC and IFS are not legal requirements and i don't see how it helps more than following the health & safety requirements of the specific country's legislation.

Second, definitely it is the duty of food manufacturers to produce a safe product, however this can be done without a BRC or an IFS certificate, say by achieving the HACCP, or other standard. These other standrds (i guess) are far cheaper than the simplest IFS accreditation process ($10,000+, another guess).

Given that IFS is required predominantly by the multinational food retailers, and was formulated in conjunction with the large food manufacturers, is the standard simply a further imposition on small global suppliers that will inevitably keep them from competing profitably? For an example see an earlier post on this board from a turkish food producer.

It is still my belief that the IFS certification will add at least $10k per year to the expenses of small business, and that this is a large amount for entrepreneurs and family run companies.

The inevitable outcome is that these companies can not supply the larger retailers, and are forced to supply the small independant retailers who are dwindling in numbers due to their inability to compete with the big boys because of price differences.

Sorry for the long-winded response but like I stated in my post, I am interested in this from both an entrepreneurial and globalisation viewpoint. 

Kind regards,

Steve


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#4 Simon

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 08:31 PM

Hi Steve, Sorry for the late reply.

First is the statement that BRC and IFS were developed to help businesses comply with the law. BRC and IFS were developed by large retailers to help themselves. BRC and IFS are not legal requirements and i don't see how it helps more than following the health & safety requirements of the specific country's legislation.

I think I did not make myself clear what I meant to say is that the standards assist companies to develop a system and this structure in itself helps the company fulfil its legal obligations.

Second, definitely it is the duty of food manufacturers to produce a safe product; however this can be done without a BRC or an IFS certificate, say by achieving the HACCP, or other standard. These other standards (i guess) are far cheaper than the simplest IFS accreditation process ($10,000+, another guess).

Agreed that the same could be done without BRC / IFS certificate and further BRC / IFS certificate does not guarantee safe food. :smile: $10,000 dollars is excessive, annual audits are probably more like $3,000. But that's the way it is and if you want to come to the party bring your BRC/IFS certificate or you don't get in. Your choice. If you choose to come, do it wholeheartedly and with a smile on your face and you may find that certification can add value and help you to retain and win new business.

It’s a fact so there is no point crying about it. :biggrin:

Regards,
Simon
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#5 steve austin

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 02:38 PM

Cheers again Simon.

Yep, rain drops are falling on my head but i won't stop the rain by complaining...

I purchased the IFS standards recently and have read through them. I guess they're not too onerous but there maybe 1 or 2 things that cause problems for our small company.

Commendations on this website too by the way. Has been a really good source of information in generating the big picture and how things all fit together.

Well, back to crossing things of the checklist now.



Ta,

Steve


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#6 Charles.C

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 12:16 PM

Dear Steve,

You posed quite an interesting question within the general scenario of private "standards"

One aspect of "minimum" size will probably relate to the risk attached to the specific product.

I hv previously seen yr query similarly addressed to ISO 9000 and nicely illustrated on the net with, from memory, a three-person company growing/selling various horticultural products. The quality manual and top procedures were somewhat scaled down but showed good understanding of the principles involved.

Contrariwise, hv encountered larger sized factories producing ready-to-eat foods which were simply unsafe due to lack of technical expertise. Sometimes, food production looks too easy, but usually not for long.

In respect to the previous posts, the key word/s is often "due diligence". Some might argue that this concept covers a multitude of possible sins.

Personally, when BRC was first introduced, I approved of the idea but IMO the continuing versions hv become (intentionally?) more and more self-serving to the receiver and reversely beneficial to the producer. I believe from seeing a few examples of the IFS standard here that this document is maybe (now) more even-handed than BRC despite their so-called equivalence within the GFSI. However I doubt that such opinions even if true will change the various national status quos currently in place. :smile:

Rgds / Charles.C


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#7 steve austin

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 12:39 PM

Hi Charles,

thanks for your insight also. You kind of nailed my underlying concern there about the 'private' standards.

The IFS auditing standard I have acknowledges the members of the IFS working group in the preface. 12 of these 15 members are retailers. The other 3 are not suppliers.

Further, with most companies, brand protection is important, given that nearly everything can become commoditised. It isn't too much of a stretch to think that these private standards can be used as a form of protectionism that raise the entry-barriers higher for new, minimally capitalised businesses looking to enter the markets.

But I'll leave that stuff to the scholars, i've just got to play to the rules as best i can.

cheers again,

Steve.


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#8 Simon

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 10:19 AM

Hi Charles,

thanks for your insight also. You kind of nailed my underlying concern there about the 'private' standards.

The IFS auditing standard I have acknowledges the members of the IFS working group in the preface. 12 of these 15 members are retailers. The other 3 are not suppliers.

Further, with most companies, brand protection is important, given that nearly everything can become commoditised. It isn't too much of a stretch to think that these private standards can be used as a form of protectionism that raise the entry-barriers higher for new, minimally capitalised businesses looking to enter the markets.

But I'll leave that stuff to the scholars, i've just got to play to the rules as best i can.

cheers again,

Steve.

Hi Steve, It is an extra cost and as long as the rule is applied across the board, in other words customers will only buy from approved 'certified' suppliers then it may be worth the investment - where customers choose to lower their standards for a cheaper price from a less rigoruous country then it is just an added cost. It does happen.

Regards,
Simon
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#9 Tony-C

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 02:08 AM

Hi Simon,

It is still my belief that the IFS certification will add at least $10k per year to the expenses of small business, and that this is a large amount for entrepreneurs and family run companies.

The inevitable outcome is that these companies can not supply the larger retailers, and are forced to supply the small independant retailers who are dwindling in numbers due to their inability to compete with the big boys because of price differences.

Sorry for the long-winded response but like I stated in my post, I am interested in this from both an entrepreneurial and globalisation viewpoint.

Kind regards,

Steve


Hi Steve,

I understand many of your concerns and points. I think you have overestimated the cost of certification unless your standards are not up to scratch.

Realistically this is a business decision. What are the benefits of certification and what is it worth to the business? If the figures don't stack up then there is no point to certification other than it may add to your system, but you can read the standard and match its requirements yourself without being certified.

Regards,

Tony :smile:
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#10 Miroslav Suska

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 05:04 PM

Hi Steve,

we have experiences to audit small size companies (e.g. egg sorting sites with 5 to 20 employees, honey packing site etc.). It that case senior management may be owner or director of the small company. IFS standard allows certification of any company size.

Regards,
Miroslav




Hello all,

For a food manufacturer what do you think is the minimum size a company could be and still be able to meet all the investment & compliance requirements for IFS certification?

Given that many of the clauses relate to "Senior management" and "Board of Directors", etc, do you think that IFS is only achievable by large, well funded companies?

Is there any auditor out there who has had an experience in auditing a small company successfully?

This interests me from an entrepreneurial view-point as well as a philosophical thought on the effects of globalisation.

Please feel free to state your opinions.

Thanks,

Steve.


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#11 PSchnittger

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 08:46 PM

Hi all,

the smallest company I have prepared for successful certification on higher level was a 2.5 employees including the owner...

Regards

Peter


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#12 Quah

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 01:56 PM

Hi Steve,

In fact for all standard does not required 'minimum size' required in certification, as long the process owner competence to comply with requirement as stated.

As for the costing, it is cost incur in implementing the system. However, the cost will need to bear in order to penetrate client market, is it? Most of the time the costing will be able to cover the certification cost. May the process owner be optimistic on implementing the system, as, f owner look at it seriously, the system will definitely help.

Regards,
Quah


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#13 Simon

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 08:38 PM

A sensibly (intelligently) applied FSMS can reduce cost and open doors to new business. If viewed as a pure unwelcome cost by senior management the foresight to apply the FSMS sensibly (intelligently) is usually lacking resulting in a "begrudged cost based" FSMS. A self fulfilling prophecy in action.


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