Auditing: a key element to build trust in the food we consume

These last years, consumers behavior in our societies has been characterized by an increased vigilance. This vigilance concerns all sectors, including food. The result is that consumers have a strong opinion of the different companies and avoid those they don’t trust. Building this trust must therefore be a primordial goal for each company. 

As we can see in every sector, the consumer’s expectations can concern various topics: environment, work conditions, etc. However, the particularity of the food sector is that the consumers expect, understandably, also safe and quality products.

Auditing is a genuine trust builder along the supply chain.

One of the most robust tools for companies to ensure the quality and safety of their products and, therefore, to build the needed confidence is the audit.

Auditing, both internally and externally, is indeed a true trust builder. The purpose of auditing could be seen as an assurance development across the entire supply chain. If the consumer needs to trust a company to choose its product, it’s precisely the same as choosing a supplier in the food sector.

It’s only by ensuring that your suppliers are working with an adequate level of quality requirements that you will be able to trust them and will be able to propose safe and quality products to the consumer. Thus, only by building this assurance within your supply chain you will create the consumer’s confidence.

So, trust is necessary for all steps of the supply chain. But on what can you base this trust? And how can you build it? As we said, audits can help you to build it. An audit is a crucial tool showing you that your suppliers effectively implement the requirements/standards (internal or external) you set. By ensuring that, you can evaluate the risks related to each supplier and your reliance on them.

Is my supplier reliable? Ask your auditors.

Needles to say, what we discussed here is only possible with competent auditors. The auditor’s role in evaluating the trust you can have in your suppliers is indeed crucial. The overall risk assessment would indicate and define the level of trust eventually.

To achieve its mission, you should ensure that your auditor possesses all the required skills, from relational and technical to strategic skills. Without that, you won’t entirely count on the audit’s results. Therefore, the selection process and the training of auditors also play a significant role in building this assurance. It is even instrumental in creating a kind of trust we didn’t discuss yet, the confidence your supplier has in you. It is also essential for your relationship with them, helping you ease your communication and implement new actions.

Correctly using your auditors’ expertise and designing an effective strategy and programs for your audit organization will help you to maximize the value you get from your audits. So the trust you have in the auditee. And as we said, the confidence you have in a supplier depends, notably, on the risk to which it exposes you. Beyond the inherent nature of its products, it will then play a vital role in the implementation of a risk-based approach.

The different audit organizations are using more and more the risk-based approach, given that it allows organizations to adopt a much more rational approach and utilize resources optimally. Today, companies are looking beyond. Indeed, they want to go further and implement a predictive approach. This approach will surely grow in the future, and audit will undoubtedly play a role in its implementation.

Indeed, it is only by modernizing the audit tools, especially by digitalizing the data coming from the audits, that we will implement a predictive approach. It is then necessary to go further in companies’ digital journeys and develop algorithms that can help.

We saw during this pandemic through the development of alternatives to on-site audits that audit is fully able to reinvent itself and play its role of trust guarantor. Then, it is sure that audit will also evolve and play a new role allowing a predictive approach.

By providing the data needed by algorithms, audits will become a more critical tool than it already is. The audit is and will be then an essential function required to build trust among the supply chain till the final consumer.

Nicolas Schiffers
January 2022

Share This Post

Leave a Reply