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  4. Food safety globally from a single source

Business processes are becoming increasingly global. Food companies in particular are operating in many countries all over the world – and TÜV NORD will in the future be able to offer them a huge range of services from a single source, regardless of where they are. In this way, the Group is set to contribute to the cause of global health and growth.

 

 

Flows of goods and production processes have long since spread all over the globe. According to the 2016 world investment report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the hundred largest multinational companies are represented in an average of 50 countries. Its transnationalisation index (TNI), which measures the activities of a company abroad, rose by 55.7 percent to 65.4 percent between 1995 and 2015.

Food should satisfy hunger and not make people sick: Which is why it is so important for international standards to be satisfied in the food sector. After all, production and supply chains have long since spread all over the globe. Food scandals have led to stronger regulatory controls. For consumers, verification of the safety of what they eat is increasingly becoming the decisive factor when it comes to deciding what foods to buy. For this reason, companies which operate internationally need independent testing and certification, both for themselves and for their suppliers, to enable them to satisfy global standards and export regulations. The worldwide support of independent and accredited test institutes such as TÜV NORD can make it easier for companies to work and enhance consumer confidence in their products.

“The international requirements for food safety are growing. To support global players, we’ve organised ourselves into one team with members all over the world.”

Kaustubh Korde, Executive Vice President OBS Food / Agriculture

 

So that it can provide even more comprehensive support to these companies as they grapple with global issues, TÜV NORD has undertaken a thorough overhaul of its own international structures. Although its experts have been using their knowledge to advance the cause of safety around the world for many decades, TÜV NORD has now taken international networking with its clients to a completely new level: thanks to a fundamental change in the internal structure of the organisation at the global level, the company can now communicate with its customers more effectively and consistently. The spring of 2017 marked the first steps toward the pooling of services across national frontiers. The first pilot projects were launched in the form of what were dubbed the Renewables, Nuclear, Rail and System Certification Operative Business Segments – and the Food / Agriculture area was also reorganised in the same manner. Globally operating companies seeking to have food from their own production or from suppliers in different countries analysed or certified now have only central points of contact. “Our specialists can concentrate on this core area of expertise and cater better to their customers in global companies,” explains Kaustubh Korde, who, as Executive Vice President of the Food / Agriculture OBS, has been coordinating the international activities of TÜV NORD in this segment since early 2017. The new structures make it possible to pool competencies and share the knowledge and expertise of international TÜV NORD experts across national frontiers. The aim of Mr Korde’s team is to arrive at a better understanding of the customers and to offer them more comprehensive, flexible and international support in their particular areas of interest.

A good way to improve the communication with customers is to optimise your own processes: This was clear from the very beginning for Kaustubh Korde and his team. After all, the shorter and more direct the internal channels of communication and the more comprehensive the pooling of expertise and sharing of knowledge, the better the chance of responding in a more targeted way to the needs and concerns of companies. It is for this reason that the team in the OBS set about bringing together experts from the TÜV NORD companies: “We’ve organised ourselves into one team with members all over the world,” Mr Korde says. “Working closely with colleagues across the globe and sharing and multiplying knowledge is really exciting and extremely fruitful.”

It is of course no coincidence that it should be Kaustubh Korde from TÜV India who has been charged with the task of getting to grips with the needs of the global food industry. After all, the dedicated Indian experts from TÜV NORD boast profound experience in food safety. Since 2012, they have for example been testing food and pharmaceuticals, for example for pesticides and toxic substances, in the food laboratory in Pune, at the highest technical level and in accordance with international standards – for local producers, international corporations and the Indian food safety authorities. In doing so, the experts are creating the conditions for Indian companies to market agricultural products such as tea, rice and fruit all over the world. In the context of a project with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), they trained over 1,000 food inspectors in different institutions between 2014 and 2016. The knowledge of Mr Korde’s team is thus making an important contribution to health and growth around the world.

The improvement in processes brought about by the change to the internal structures is already bearing fruit. The pace of collaboration with international customers has quickened further. In 21 countries from Russia and Brazil to South Africa, the experts from TÜV NORD are now testing, among other things, quality, environmental and food safety management systems for Dr. Oetker. In addition to the safety standards, the experts are also working at selected locations to verify whether products are free of gluten and whether any palm oil used meets the sustainability criteria of RSPO certification. For Austrian packaging company Alpla Alwin Lehner, TÜV NORD is supervising 172 sites in 45 countries ranging from Mexico and Thailand to Saudi Arabia. “New services are now being discussed in the individual OBS and decisions made that take into account local, regional and global opportunities and conditions,” says Mr Korde by way of summary of the results to date of the structural transformation. But he isn’t resting on his laurels. “We will continue to improve our knowledge transfer and pooling of expertise.” For this purpose, the experts for food safety are, for example, developing a central database which the global team can access in one click for information wherever they are in the world to allow them to cater more effectively and in a more targeted manner to the needs of international companies – with the aim not just of feeding the world but also of guaranteeing the quality and safety of the food provided.

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