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Fruitfed Supplies Blenheim store BRCGS registration aids wine exporters

Fruitfed Supplies Blenheim store BRCGS registration aids wine exporters

Fruitfed Supplies Blenheim store BRCGS registration aids wine exporters

Fruitfed Supplies’ commitment to achieving Brand Reputation through Compliance of Global Standards (BRCGS) certification for the Blenheim branch is an increasingly important aspect of doing business with numerous New Zealand wine exporters.

BRCGS, formerly the British Retail Consortium, is an internationally recognised mark of food quality, safety and responsibility. More than 29,000 certified suppliers in 130 countries are assessed via a global network of accredited certification bodies.

Fruitfed Supplies Blenheim, which provides winery supplies to a significant number of Marlborough-based wine producers, is now into its third year of BRCGS certification.

Sue Pragassen, National Manager – Quality and Compliance, Constellation Brands NZ Ltd, explains why BRCGS matters to their business: “Food safety standards are continually improving, along with customer expectations. In the United Kingdom and Europe, the requirement for suppliers to have recognised certifications has been building for a long time.”

Sue worked for a major UK supermarket in the early 2000s when the BRC standard was developed. “It helped us assess a potential supplier’s capabilities and reduced the time needed to audit their food safety processes. Now, at Constellation which exports a significant volume of wine to these markets, many of our customers prefer to work with wineries that have globally recognised food safety certification. Some require it, particularly EU/UK supermarkets. It can also put us ahead when working with our Australasian retailers. It’s easier to achieve this type of certification ourselves when our suppliers are similarly certified, requiring less time for us to approve suppliers and the products we purchase.”

The winery inputs, additives and processing aids supplied by PGG Wrightson to local wineries are classed as food-grade ingredients and must comply with the New Zealand Food Act.

As Kirsty Eggleston, Quality Assurance Manager for PGG Wrightson, explains, there are obligations under the Act to make sure these food-grade ingredients are safe, fit for purpose and of suitable quality. “That’s why we source these products from reputable manufacturers and suppliers around the world. Our customers expect that we understand their requirements and rely on us to provide them with food-safe products. BRCGS is recognised as a benchmark Global Food Safety Initiative which shows we are serious about the safety of our products and meet the high standards required in everything we do within our section of the product supply chain.”

There are several aspects to achieving BRCGS certification undertaken by PGG Wrightson’s Quality Assurance team. These include:

  • Strict supplier approval processes.
  • Independent product testing for heavy metals and checking all batches of a particular product meet its specifications.
  • Comprehensive risk analysis of all products to cover ethical, environmental and quality issues.
  • Annual external audits by independent auditors to check internal systems.
  • Regular traceability challenges on products to ensure they can be tracked in the event of a recall.

Kirsty says the commitment from people across PGG Wrightson and Fruitfed Supplies, from management to branch staff, has been outstanding. “BRCGS certification is not easy to achieve. Everyone’s commitment to the training, record keeping, inspections, extra cleaning, writing up quality incident reports, controlling pests and much more is what’s made it possible for us to achieve and keep this certification which is valuable to many of our customers.”

As the third anniversary of Fruitfed Supplies Blenheim’s BRCGS certification rolls over, the team faces an unannounced audit. Kirsty says: “This could take place at any time within a three-month period. The Blenheim team works hard to make sure the store is always audit-ready, made possible with the addition of a Quality Administrator based onsite, Tess Wells. We currently have an AA status and, with an outstanding result from last year’s audit with zero non-conformance ratings, we aim to repeat this and obtain the highest standard possible.”

Sue agrees that Fruitfed Supplies Blenheim having BRCGS certification has helped Constellation. “It’s made our lives much easier and Fruitfed is a preferred supplier from a quality assurance perspective. The certification provides us with confidence that Fruitfed Supplies is a business with high standards which puts food safety and quality at its core and can service our needs. Their quality team understands the level of detail we require to risk assess potential new ingredients. They are very responsive when we request additional information. This reduces our workload as we don’t need to conduct a traceability exercise with each manufacturer, as this is covered under Fruitfed’s certification.”

Blenheim-based Fruitfed Supplies Key Account Manager Peter Mortimer says that, over the past five to six years, there has been ever-increasing requirement for compliance and documentation for the likes of halal, vegan, and vegetarian wine.

“This is where our AA status for BRCGS certification is important for our winery customers,” says Peter. “It makes their industry compliance requirements easier and helps other wine companies apply for certification. We’re proud to offer a comprehensive level of knowledge of these compliance requirements to support the wineries who do business with us.”

Blair McLean, one of the Fruitfed Supplies Horticultural Sales Representatives in Blenheim, also recognises the value of the BRCGS certification and the work done by Kirsty Eggleston and the Quality Assurance team. “Kirsty can respond to our winery customers quickly and directly to assist with their product quality and compliance requirements. This enables people like me to continue with our traditional role of supporting and advising growers on various crop-related management processes and product options. We all appreciate what a difference this has made to our ability to offer our customers an even higher standard of service.”

Nick Kole, Blenheim Area Sales Manager, says the focus is always quality. “Across our whole site, we’re aiming to achieve the best outcomes for all our customers. I’m incredibly proud of the work everyone does to deliver on our quality goals.”