We’ve all heard the sad truth about the current state of the food production industry: It creates an immense amount of waste and a high rate of health and safety accidents, often due to inefficiencies (University of Edinburgh, 2017).
From a quality perspective, these are troubling results that prompted the Juran team to look into the food production industry and apply our time-tested process improvement training to set it on a path to better quality and all of the benefits that come with it (Ie: increased profits, expanded customer acquisition and higher approval ratings).
Challenges facing food producers today
The ultimate goal for food producers is to develop a quality system that is rich in customer sensory data, applies exact measurement of raw material qualities, and ensures a production process that is capable of producing as high a quality of healthy, good-tasting foods as possible.
Why are so many producers missing the mark?
- • Failure to understand the customer
- • Failure to distinguish quality from safety
- • Too many staff without process improvement training
Understanding the customer
Quality management begins with product design—starting with the voice of the customer.
Each customer has different needs. Every need is critical to the product’s quality characteristics and must be woven seamlessly into the design, production, and distribution chain.
Missing anything that is critical to quality (CTQ) could mean not being able to sell the product because the user did not like it, or it harmed a person because of failure to manage hygiene in the factory.
Distinguishing quality from safety
So often we hear that quality means a safe product. Quality and safety are not the same.
A quality product meets all of the important needs of the customer, including taste, price, availability, ease of use, and safety. Safety is all about do no harm. A high-quality product will be safe, but a safe product is not always of high quality. Do not mix them up.
Unfortunately, most food safety personnel are tasked with managing quality—but they really only manage safety. Why? Because that is all they are required to do.
Unilever, one of the larger food producers, understands that quality and safety are equally important. Paul Pullman, CEO, clearly says what quality is about: “We meet everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene, and personal care with brands that help people feel good, look good, and get more out of life.”
As a result of this mindset, they consistently produce products that taste good and are safe. In the event there is customer dissatisfaction, they fix the product—and fast.
Empowering Staff with Process Improvement Training
When untrained personnel oversee quality, the organization builds an unseen risk into the process—that of not knowing how a product is truly performing over time.
Safety personnel who cross over and manage quality are often very skilled in safety regulations and science. However, many of them do not have a deep skill set in quality.
It is essential that food industry organizations review the training and certifications of their staff. If your organization is lacking employees with process improvement training, here are some areas where you need to beef up your staff’s expertise:
- Customer and shopper, consumer needs and satisfaction
- Quality standards and good manufacturing practices (GMPs)
- Quality in warehousing and logistics
- Hygiene in operations
- Nonconformance management
- Quality management system
- Risk management
- Safety: hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) and failure mode effects and analysis (FMEA)
- Incident management
- Quality in design
- Supplier and third-party quality
- Data measurement and analysis
- Improvement methods and tools applications (Lean Six Sigma)
- Quality verification and validation
- Food industry regulatory requirements
Why Process Improvement Training?
If your organization has had a recent quality or safety issue, it probably was due to a break in your dam— the systems put in place to protect against risk.
That break was likely caused by a lack of quality skills. To avoid future failures, revisit your team’s skill-sets and begin process improvement training immediately to establish a new path forward.
We all need good, safe, and healthy food, and Juran can help your company provide it.
For information on the many types of process improvement training we offer, and our 75 years of experience, please get in touch with the team.
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