Having a common standard and a uniform way to evaluate the quality level of suppliers reduces a retailer’s need for second party audits. For the retailer, supply chain management becomes more consistent and efficient. It reduces the overall costs of the process, and increases the level of safety for customers, suppliers, and consumers. While it may be a ticket to trade with retailers, it is also a chance for you to demonstrate your commitment to food safety, quality, and legality, and to work on continual improvement.
Concern among retailers about food safety because of their direct responsibility in case of an incident led to the development of uniform food safety standards and audit system.
IFS (International Food Standard) was developed by German and French food trade associations to take control of the situation, and it is the international standard for auditing retailer and wholesaler branded food products. It is also supported by the major Italian trade association. The standard applies to suppliers at all steps of the food processing subsequent to the agricultural stage.
The requirements are related to the quality management system and the HACCP system, supported by detailed prerequisite programs, that is a set of GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) and GH P (Good Hygiene Practice) requirements. It helps ensure that they comply with quality and safety demands, and legal requirements. IFS meets the criteria of the Global Food Safety Initiative by CIES — The Food Business Forum, the global organization including CEOs and senior management of around 400 retailers (operating close to 200,000 stores) and manufacturer members of all sizes.
The most important European retailers require IFS certification from the suppliers that are included in their supply chain. But IFS is an international standard and can be applied to suppliers outside Europe as well.