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BBI upgrades quality in Philippine F&B companies

Source:Ringier Food

Date Published:2/13/2018 06:02:09 PM

Q&A with Dr Elaine Borazon, CEO of BusinessBests, a consulting firm for food and beverage companies  

NURTURING a culture of quality within a company is essential for its continued growth and competitiveness. It is key to better work performance, smooth production operations, consistent product quality, and customer satisfaction. Without it, issues and errors are more likely to occur.

As CEO of consulting firm BusinessBests Innovacon Inc (BBI), Dr Borazon is familiar with the issues and hurdles to growth among many food and beverage companies in the Philippines. Many of these issues stem from inadequate knowledge of – or even deliberate disregard – for quality, industry standards and practices. We asked Dr Borazon how BBI comes to their aid.

Dr Elaine Borazon, CEO, BusinessBests Innovacon Inc (BBI)

Dr Elaine Borazon, CEO, BusinessBests Innovacon Inc (BBI)

Please tell us about the company – when was it incorporated, and what made you decide to put up the business?

BusinessBests Innovacon Inc. was established in December 2016 out of the desire to assist small and medium businesses transform their workplace from a so-called “backyard” operations to a systematic, regulatory conforming organization.

BusinessBests is a consultancy firm that offers customized trainings in connection with food safety and quality, sensory evaluation, product development plant layouting and equipment selection. The company also provides on-site consulting services in quality management (food safety management system-ISO 22000, ISO 9001, HACCP, GMP), food defense, operations (commissary set-up, product development, packaging and labeling), finance, and marketing. The firm applies a holistic approach in assessing the needs of the clients to be able to dig into the important and necessary areas that have to be improved or fixed.

BBI’s consultation covers the scope – quality management, operations, marketing/branding – which require different expertise. How many specialists do you have onboard?

We have five specialists. Three of them are food technologists who have extensive industry experience in product research and development, quality assurance, food safety management system, and food production operations. One specialist is a Marketing major while the other one is a Finance major. Both of them have more than five years of industry experience in their respective areas of specialization.

On BBI’s trainings – can you elaborate on the courses available under:

  1. Food Safety Programs (GMP, HACCP, ISO 22000)
  2. Food Defense (how can companies protect their products?)
  3. Sensory Training (Basic and Advance) (what does the training entail?)
  4. Product Development (Packaging, Labeling, Product specification)
  5. Plant Layouting
  6. Equipment Selection

Since BBI’s mission is to help SME’s become ambassadors to food safety, the firm offers various trainings that are focused mostly in the safe and hygienic manufacturing of food such as:

  1. Food Safety programs (GMP, HACCP, and ISO 2000)
  1. Good manufacturing practices (GMP) aims to guide food handlers about quality, hygiene and the correct sanitation of the processing plant. GMP also trains quality control employees on the proper monitoring of the process to ensure that the food product is safe for consumption. This program covers various areas of production, such as raw material receipt and storage, structural requirements, equipment, premises, personnel hygiene, pest control, chemical control, and traceability.
  1. Hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) teaches the quality control officers, food developers and food handlers on the various biological, chemical, and physical hazards  that may be present during food processing and distribution. This training helps them to categorize each hazard whether dangerous or manageable and helps them to identify the appropriate control measures to be applied in each hazard.
  1. ISO 22000 ( Food Safety Management) trains the whole organization from the management down to the food handlers as this involves proper and complete documentation and implementation of all the company’s food safety pre-requisite programs.
  1. Food Defense – a training that teaches the companies strategies on how to protect their product and the whole manufacturing plant from recognized risks or intentional contamination.
  1. Sensory Training helps food developers and quality controllers understand the science behind food aroma, taste and texture and its application to product development, quality assessment, and consumer research. This trains them to properly evaluate food samples through the five senses and quantify the food sample’s sensory characteristics. This also teaches the participants the proper set-up of a sensory laboratory.
  1. Product Development – BBI provides training and assistance from product conceptualization to commercial production of the new product. It provides research on the appropriate packaging material and ingredients to be used, and the proper labelling requirements. The company also does market research for the product to be developed.
  1. Plant –lay outing and equipment selection – Another good service offered by BBI is assistance on commissary set-up where the team create the most efficient lay-out depending on the process that the client implements. BBI also gives guidance on its clients on the criteria to look at when purchasing equipment.

Have you conducted an entire package training (trainings for food safety down to equipment selection) for a company? How long does it usually take?

Yes, we have. Usually, from assessment to implementation, it takes about six months. Then we highly recommend follow through trainings that run for three months, and these include hands-on training, exam preparation and documentation.

What training courses should start-up companies invest in?

Start-up companies should first spend ample time in determining the strengths and weaknesses of their team. It is important for them to understand what skills and knowledge are lacking from their employees since these aspects differ depending on what industry the company is in, for what job and for what department. But for example, you are in the food industry, it is highly recommended that you equip yourself with the basic knowledge and requirements with regard to Good Manufacturing Practices and basic food safety.

How often should companies conduct/participate in training?

There is no standard when it comes to that. There are many factors to consider like if there is a need for the employees to train or if there are enough resources for it. Sometimes, there are also regulatory requirements that formalise the need for training. However, in terms of Good Manufacturing practices, it is suggested that production employees undergo the said training before joining the production team and at least a once a year training/refresher course. Trainings should also be progressive as we recommend continuous development of the company.

Having seen how F&B companies operate, can you share with us the challenges that they usually go through when putting up and/or maintaining their business?

One of the challenges that food and beverage companies, particularly the small and medium enterprises, go through is understanding and complying with regulatory requirements and consistent implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices. Meeting documentation requirements would need a technical person with experience in the food industry. Consistent implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices by the company’s employees would need an understanding of the principles of food safety, continuous trainings, and employee commitment.

Another challenge is increasing competition among industry players. You will notice that many new and cheap products emerge in the market. Thus, there is a need for companies to continuously innovate, reduce production costs, and improve efficiency. The product’s price and quality should also be competitive.

Having said that, how would you assess the food safety and quality in the local industry?

In the local industry, there are many areas for improvement when it comes to food safety and quality. As I’ve mentioned earlier, industry players, and all their employees, from top to bottom, must have a thorough understanding of all food safety principles, the Good Manufacturing guidelines, and quality standards. Standard operating procedures should also be conscientiously followed. Continuous training is also necessary in the goal to build a culture of quality.

What are your impressions of the local food and beverage industry?

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the growth rate of exports for processed food and beverage is 14.6% from 2016 to 2017. The local food and beverage industry still has a lot to improve in terms of quality and safety in order to become more competitive. They have to improve on their product’s profile, such as appearance, taste, and texture. Packaging is also very important. It has to be attractive to their target market and should be able to protect the life of the product. They have to develop their unique selling point and their brand should be clearly established.

From a quality standpoint, why do small companies find it difficult to raise their standards? What is missing?

Microbusinesses and some small companies lack financial resources to comply with the regulatory requirements, train their employees, and improve their product quality. They also need technical people who can make them understand the quality and safety standards and train their production employees on food safety practices. They have to create a culture of quality.

What steps should industry take in order to improve? Of course, it needs the cooperation of government and other players. Could you comment on this?

First, collaboration and integration of their supply chain is very important. The players along the chain should help each other in terms of training, technical assistance and implementation of their best practices. They should also be able to spot the right technical people to be their guide in enhancing their competitiveness in quality, safety, and price.

Second, they have to effectively and efficiently produce goods according to safety and quality standards. These can be achieved by managing and tracking non-conformances, managing risks along the supply chain, training and professionalizing employees, enforcing standardized procedures, monitoring critical processes, and ensuring compliance with government regulations and standards.

It is also necessary for companies invest in innovation to remain competitive.  

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