Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Martin Brown Interview - day one at the Global Food Safety Conference

This morning at the Global Food Safety Conference, we talked to Martin Brown, LRQA's Vice-President, Americas. Here are some of Martin's first impressions on day one from Washington, D.C. (Listen to or download the audio podcast here)

The Global Food Safety Conference, is an interesting event, it not only brings the world of food producers, the retailers, and the service industry together, but it also starts to define the values that that sector needs in the business. What fascinates me with the food sector, is there are some irreducible minimums, the nature of safe, quality food, is more and more universally understood. It’s a situation that many companies are realising tightly ties their brand, their reputation and even their survival, to getting this right. The cost of getting it wrong can be so damaging.
What we’re seeing at this conference is more and more of a unified view on the true value that this needs to represent to these organisations. Supply chains reach around the world, we see that through the nature of the companies that are at this conference, we also see it in the locations that many people here have come from. There are representatives here from many countries, India, China, Brazil and the US. Whereas in many other parts of our business we may describe those countries, and the markets they represent as being developing or emerging, in the food industry I think it’s a level playing field. The US buys most of its food, by volume and revenue from China and Brazil, so there is no part of this globe where supply chain safety in the food industry is not of paramount importance.
So, for an organisation like LRQA, this represents an amazing potential, because we see large global clients who have a large global footprint, either through their own organisation or their supply chains, bringing product and process in to them, for which their brand name is then dependent. LRQA also has a global footprint, we have an organisation that around the world is providing something more than just compliance, more than just a cursory look at that organisation, through our Business Assurance approach. We’re providing an insight into their management system and that can provide true value to them. And it’s very interesting that the companies we’ve spoken with here, and those we are already in a business relationships with, are looking for something specific. The large companies, who are either doing something about or soon to be doing something about food safety and quality in their business, are not looking for the cheapest price, they’re looking for value, they’re looking for the best service, to keep their name safe.

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