UNCERTAINTY for the agri-food industry post Brexit has resulted in much discussion and many predictions.
However, one common theme throughout all of this has been the need to differentiate our products in order to penetrate new markets and maintain existing customers.
An aspect that all customers require is quality assurance – not just high quality standards but the assurance that these standards are continually monitored to ensure compliance.
The recent annual general meeting of Northern Ireland Food Chain Certification (NIFCC) illustrated that the province is well placed to meet these targets. Each aspect has its own quality assurance scheme and these are closely monitored on a regular basis supported by a comprehensive IT system.
NIFCC chairman, Robin Irvine, outlined the amount of surveillance and achievement when he addressed the AGM.
Northern Ireland Beef and Lamb Scheme
The core business of NIFCC continues to be the service delivery of the Northern Ireland Beef and Lamb Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (FQAS). During the year, a total of 8,740 inspections were completed made up of 431 initial, 7,643 surveillance, 634 spot-check and 32 re-inspections. The number of Approved Producers in FQAS at the year end was 11,865.
Farm Quality Assured Cereals Scheme
NIFCC has also been administering the Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured Cereals Scheme (FQACS) since 2006. During the year, NIFCC completed 646 cereals scheme inspections made up of 190 ‘Cereals only’ inspections and 456 combined Cereals and Beef and Lamb inspections. Membership of the cereals quality assurance scheme currently stands at 922.
Red Tractor Assurance Livestock Transport and Livestock Market Schemes
NIFCC has been administering the Red Tractor Livestock Transport and Livestock Market schemes since 2006 and 2007 respectively. During the year, 60 transport scheme inspections and 29 market scheme inspections were completed. Currently there are 64 assured livestock hauliers and 26 assured markets and collection centres registered with NIFCC.
Red Tractor Farm Assurance Poultry Scheme
NIFCC has also been administering the Red Tractor Poultry Scheme since 2008. 646 Poultry Scheme inspections were completed during the year and there are currently 586 approved producers in the Red Tractor Poultry scheme.
Red Tractor Farm Assurance Dairy Scheme
NIFCC has been providing inspection and certification to the Red Tractor Dairy Scheme since 2009. 1,181 Dairy Scheme inspections were completed during the year, made up of 166 ‘Dairy only’ inspections and 1,015 combined Dairy and Beef and Lamb inspections. The number of Approved Producers in the Red Tractor Dairy Scheme at the year end was 1,636, which was a year on year increase of 178 members.
British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Red Tractor Meat Processing Schemes
NIFCC has also been providing inspection and certification services to the food processing sector since 2009. During the year, 43 BRC Food, 12 BRC Storage and Distribution and 10 Red Tractor Meat Processing inspections were completed.
Trade Assurance Scheme for Combinable Crops
We have also been providing audits for the Trade Assurance Scheme for Combinable Crops (TASCC) since 2010. During the year, nine grain stores and 84 hauliers were inspected, both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The main focus of business development continues to be the investment in our IT system, known as Live Q. The main area of focus has been the integration of the Red Tractor Dairy Scheme into the Live Q certification system. Further developments of Live Q, during the current year, will include the integration of LiveQ with an electronic document management system.