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The Future in Focus

Listen to our podcast where we speak with Stuart Kelly & Kimberly Coffin about the GFSI Conference 2022.

Podcast: GFSI Conference 2022 - Episode 3 - Reflections on day 1

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GFSI Conference 2022: Episode three
WEDNESDAY 30 MARCH 2022 09:00 ◦ 14 MINUTES

In this episode, we speak to Stuart Kelly, LRQA’s Global Sales Director, and Kimberly Coffin, LRQA’s voice of supply chain assurance within the Food, Beverage and Hospitality industry, onsite at the GFSI 2022 Conference, hosted this year in Barcelona.

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Transcript: GFSI Podcast episode 3

You can listen to the podcast directly, where LRQA interviews Stuart Kelly, our Sales Director at LRQA, and Kimberly Coffin, LRQA’s voice of supply chain assurance within the Food, Beverage and Hospitality industry, or you can read the transcript below.

Interview with Stuart Kelly

Stuart, you have been a member of the food safety community for a long time now, have you noticed any changes or the emergence of new themes in, at the conference so far?

A good question and thanks for reminding me about my age, I really appreciate that.

Yes, I think one of the underlying themes and we’ve had a couple of client meetings already at the conference, is really about how do we move beyond audit and if you remember the whole GFSI ethos was set up about being consistent in terms of our audit approach so that it was a lighter burden on the supply chain where they could use one audit to meet a number of manufacturers requirements or a number of end users requirements.

What we’re now seeing and I think it’s as a result of the pandemic and the rapid changes to supply chain assurance is that people are looking beyond audit. They’re looking at how they can be more risk averse in terms of using data to predict and prioritise risk, maybe use interventions rather than standard audit programmes and deep diving into areas that they think are going to be more concerning with suppliers.

So I think if I could summarise that, what we’re seeing is one size doesn’t fit all anymore and I think that that is one of the underlying themes that I’m getting certainly from the conversations around the event, less so the sessions, more around the conversations around the event. People have had to adapt and be really agile in their thinking over the last couple of years and they’ve recognised that gives them more risk and more brand assurance rather than less and that’s a positive thing.

Can you tell us about some of the conversations you have had today?

Really interesting conversations actually and I would say again two underlying themes from those conversations. The first one is we really need to use our data better, or data depending on who you’re speaking to, and we need to understand how we can do that and is that something that you’ve got any experience in and helping. So using data and analytics to help how we manage risk better in our supply chain is one of the underlying themes.

The second one is more about verification of some of the claims that have been made and this conference for the first time is actually touching on safe and sustainable food whereas its normally been very food safety driven. And sustainability is great but with sustainability normally with brands comes claims, so you know a hundred percent of everything that we buy is organically sourced or whatever, those claims need verifying and I think a number of companies are realising that they might have gaps in the data and the verification process. So its understanding how we can support those clients along that journey in terms of the claims that they are actually making.

So I think those are the two underlying themes that I’m seeing and its quite interesting for me because a traditionally food safety centric conference is now widening its scope to talk about things like sustainability and transparency etc. and that’s quite refreshing for me, but it’s also interesting to see that transition.

Have there been any sessions that you have attended today that you have particularly liked or anything that's stuck with you so far?

One that stuck with me was the opening session actually where the GFSI were talking about some of the reasons for not moving towards remote assurance at the beginning of the pandemic and there was a very mixed reaction to that and I understand why. A lot of people relied on the GFSI audit programmes to give them the verification and the assurance that their supply chain was safe and I think the fact that we were not able to react quickly enough to the lack of travel, the lockdown restrictions and remove, you know go quickly to remote technology and remote options was personally I think a failure for the food industry and I think GFSI today got mixed reactions to their justification for what they did. And again all that does is underpin and underline the fact that the world is changing and how people are actually assuring their supply chains is changing. So I would say that’s the one highlight for me today.

What are your expectations for day two?
I think more of the same, I think the trends around the conversations we’re having with our clients and perspective clients is going to continue along the line of what more can we be doing and how could we be doing things differently. There’s a little bit more in day two around use of analytics, use of data and I think that will tease some thinking out from some people. Everyone’s talking about it, there’s not a lot of people actually using it in the right way because they’re obsessing and focusing on getting the data into the right shape rather than actually starting the journey and learning as they go. So I expect day two to be more of those conversations with clients around widening the scope of how you can support and help us, thinking outside of just traditional audit programmes and more around data verification and analysis. 

Thank you Stuart for your time, now to Kimberly!


Interview with Kimberly Coffin

Kimberly, this whole conference is built around food safety and sustainability, where have you seen those two topics coming together?

Thanks for that question. It’s interesting when I think about you know there is still a very strong focus from a food safety perspective but I think some key things that I’ve taken away where when we think about food safety and we think about sustainability, that are integral into a lot of the discussions that we’re actually, I’ve seen today and that I’ve listened to today.

One is around trust and the fact that trust is the basis of everything that we do which I thought was a great takeaway from one of the sessions this morning and really its around that understanding that fundamentally trust is a prerequisite for anything that we do in the context of the consumer. So whether it be food safety related, or whether it be related to those other changes and those other things that as an industry that we’re looking at by way of optimising what do meeting those consumer driven demands around sustainability, it’s really resonated for me how important trust is in the context of meeting those consumer needs and fundamentally delivering both from a food safety perspective and a sustainability perspective.

Likewise, a lot of conversation around the importance of harmonisation and I think that specifically resonates with me in how we think about sustainability and the fact that we’re really as an industry I think in many respects coming to terms with what sustainability means for our businesses and our organisations. And actually then looking at whether harmonisation is the way forward and how do we actually understand emerging threats or emerging risks related to various sustainability, that various changes that are being made in the context of sustainability and ensuring that we really learn from each other and actually share and celebrate our successes in the area of sustainability and the changes that we make.

You hosted a tech talk on day one, can you tell us a little bit more about that please?

Oh what a buzz, what an absolutely fantastic experience. It was fantastic actually to be on that small stage in the middle of the exhibition area to actually, to talk through with a great audience, safe food being sustainable food and what that means for organisations and how organisations need to be thinking in the context of risk impact on food safety.

You know really in, you know going through and looking at everything from what does sustainability mean for businesses and organisations, and because sustainability is so much broader if you will for many organisations it needs to be focused on kind of the specifics around process and product to be meaningful and tangible by way of actually delivering commitments in that space.

You know moving through to ensuring that we found the balance and the fact that well and truly nothing can have a, can cause a, so nothing should cause us to lose sight of the importance of food safety, that first and foremost food safety needs to be put at the forefront of anything that we do to ensure that our consumers are safe and that we’re actually providing safe food to everyone everywhere.

Thirdly, I spoke a bit about the importance of actually as we start to look at sustainability commitments and really understanding kind of where we’re starting from as a basis, applying science and using science to actually well and truly define and actually be able to demonstrate those tangible achievements that we’re making in the name of sustainability and making in the name of having an impact on the environment.

Also important to ensure that when we think about sustainability much like the way that we thought some 20, 25 years ago from a food safety perspective, the importance of independent verification and actually having someone else check our homework as opposed to checking our own homework and actually then boasting about and celebrating the successes that we’re having.

It’s very important that we set those benchmarks for us to actually measure against, to actually measure and collect the data related to sustainability much like we do from a food safety risk, a traditional food safety risk perspective and then ensuring that we’re actually having those independently verified to actually be able to demonstrate with integrity the impact that we’re having.

And then the final piece was well and truly looking at how we actually manage and how we capture data in the context of risk and emerging risk. And not only then thinking about if you will measuring our supplier networks based on the traditional means by which we use to measure and monitor their performance in the context of food safety but as we start to actually broaden our focus with regards to product integrity more holistically, we need to think about the impact on our supply network, on our supplier performance measures and ensure that we’ve got the right mix of holistic risk factors that we’re actually monitoring, measuring and actually using to actually ensure that suppliers are meeting our, the minimum requirements that we expect of them.

Do you have any highlights from day one and any expectations for day two?

I think probably the biggest highlight for me was just to see so many people that I haven’t seen in quite some time as well as just to see the great kind of interaction, the great discussions that are going on, people really being interested in being out again and being able to talk in a collaborative manner with the broader food industry at a single event.

There are some 600 plus people here, the feeling both in the exhibition hall, as well as you know in the kick-off plenary was, I won’t say electric, but it was, you know you could just feel the vibe, you could feel kind of the positivity in the group to be able to engage and be together again as an industry.

Looking forward to day two, I’m really looking forward to personally sitting back and actually having a bit of time to soak in a lot more information. Today’s been a really hectic day from my perspective with my tech talk this afternoon and just a number of customer visits which it’s been, we’ve been blessed to be able to actually have so much time with customers face to face to talk about how we can help and how we can actually work together from a partnership perspective to actually lift the standards not only just in respect of food safety risk but starting to actually look at how we can actually help more broadly from a broader risk management and emerging issues, the space of emerging issues.