How does an organisation from the bottom of the world, excell internationally in verifying and stamping its approval on food quality and safety?
The first answer is because New Zealand exports over 90% of the food it produces, and other countries demand assurances of quality and safety against their market access standards.
The second is through 120 years of experience backed by expertise, professionalism and integrity which sees AsureQuality as its home country’s premier food assurances provider. These attributes also see it with significant operations in Australia, Singapore, China and the Middle East.
AsureQuality’s 1700 people have inherited and continue to develop world-leading inspection, auditing, certification, testing, training, advisory and authentication services.
Integrating inspection, certification and testing
As a recognised Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) it has a mandate that integrates inspection and certification with testing.
Its Chief Science Officer, Dr Harry van Enckevort says food is the State Owned Enterprise’s main focus - giving consumers confidence in what they eat while also protecting the brands of countries and companies.
As well as New Zealand clients, customers include very well known non-NZ multinationals, with
some of these brands also in the very sensitive infant formula space.
“AsureQuality also has a key role in New Zealand’s food safety regulatory framework and to do that we have to walk the line between customers and regulators. To achieve it we can’t have conflicts of interest.”
In practice it means across all AsureQuality services, we have to maintain our independence.
“We can only do that because we carefully cultivate our expertise, professionalism and integrity.”
Harry says the organisation is based on a deeply skilled people resource underpinned by its science and technical capabilities.
“We also have a worldwide overview – helping take exports out of New Zealand and bringing global perspectives back home,” he says. “That customer focus is a two-way flow; they lead us and we lead them. If we didn’t there is no way we’d have our global expertise in food quality and safety.”
He says the company instills continual improvement through looking at ourselves and customer feedback and surveys.
“We’re constantly looking at what we need to do to stay relevant and ahead of the game and competition,” Harry says. “We’re always looking to find a better way, challenging our people how we can do things better, faster and smarter while still maintaining the quality of our output. Because there’s always changes in customers and industry as well as customer needs, we have feedback loops and responses.”
A particular point of focus is to add value for a customer beyond mere compliance, not simply ticking a box as part of an audit or certification.
When we give customer feedback in an audit, they might ask what the options are to mitigate the issues,
“We say, here are some options - we don’t tell them what to do - they need to make their own call,” he says.
For AsureQuality to still be thriving in five years time, “to still have relevance, we will have to be commercially successful.”
“Our market offering will have to continue to be relevant, and we’ll need to maintain our comparative advantage against our competitors. If we do that we’d like to think we’ll have a larger global presence than we presently do. To achieve that we’ll need to continue to have the right people in the right place with the right expertise and service.
“So far we’ve met the demands of customers and stakeholders all across the world. By maintaining our core focus on science and technology that is how we will continue to provide the services they want, how we will continue to grow.”
This story also appeared here, https://blog.scienceexchange.com/2016/11/asurequality/, as a commissioned article for Science Exchange. It has recently opened an NZ satellite office for its USA-based business.
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