COVID-19 has impacted all business and the generalisation that the ‘food industry will be OK’, like most generalisations, doesn’t actually hold water – or if it does, it’s certainly leaking! The discretionary spend sector has been hit very hard and while domestic consumption through food retailers, supermarkets and home delivery has increased, this presents little comfort to those who rely on restaurants and cafes and the entertainment section generally. We very much hope that those sectors come back to normal and quickly. Certainly, governments around the world are alert to this and seem prepared to make compromises to assist.

During this pandemic, we at HACCP International have had to change the way we do things. Working from home, Zoom, MS Teams, virtual audits and ‘working around issues’ has already become second nature to us. In fact, when we return to the post-COVID world, we will bring with us a number of efficiency initiatives which will save both time and costs for many of our customers.

Without the ability to travel, we have now swapped jetlag for late night/ early morning calls and a steep learning curve in electronic solutions. Connecting with our five regional offices in the USA, the UK, Hong Kong, Australia and Japan has seen considerable competition and bidding for favourable timeslots. Our customers, we note, are doing the same. I am very appreciative of the compromises, efforts and resilience of the HACCP International team around the world and the head office team that supports them through all this as well as the understanding of our customers as we ‘keep calm and carry on!”

The pandemic has not stopped us and food safety has not been compromised. In fact, food safety has probably become an even greater focus and various pandemic processes have served to bolster it. Handwashing, for example, has had an awareness boost like no other and with consumers, rather than just food workers, now more likely to adopt good practices, the incidents of food borne illnesses should actually see a welcome reduction.

With safety being front of mind in the food industry, it has become increasingly important for manufacturers and distributors of materials and equipment used in food processing to play their part and demonstrate the food safety qualities of their products.  HACCP International’s product certification scheme confirms food safe quality – not just cleanability, food grade materials or design but full compatibility with the world’s leading standards in every respect. As our recent publicity material has stressed, ‘it is either completely food safe or it isn’t. No ifs, no buts!’ It is the complete food safety package that the food industry wants – not bits of it. That is the differentiation that the HACCP International mark brings.

Despite the setbacks of COVID-19, we have continued to expand our team in recent months. We have been joined by two new staff members in The UK to bolster our EMEA team with another joining in August. We are thrilled to welcome Rob Beaken to our European team. Rob has an extensive background in food technology, food safety and food manufacturing and retailing, most recently with Woolworths Australia (who he continues to support). Claire Louise joins our CRM team and will now be known to a number of readers in our EMEA district and David Bradley will be taking on the business development functions for that area from August. Many of you will already be familiar with Richard Mallett who continues in a senior technical capacity. We will also be expanding our Asia Pacific team in the coming months with additional SE Asian staff to support Bill Simos’ team in the region and David Tan’s increasing portfolio of clients in Singapore. This increase in workload now sees Japan and South Korea becoming an autonomous region within the HACCP International structure under the management of Nigel Asai in Tokyo.

We are delighted with the pace with which the mark is being adopted in that region with many Japanese, Korean and global companies with significant presence in the area, using the mark to demonstrate their products’ food safe qualities. 3M, Bayer, Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Kuraray Kuraflex, Settsu, Elmex and Youngsan being just a few companies who demonstrate outstanding food safety qualities in their products distributed in this important geographical market.

Many companies have been severely impacted by this horrible virus with both personal tragedy among staff and business-wrecking shutdowns. If there is anything any of our chemists, microbiologists or food technologists can do to help – please ask.  We have many bright (seriously bright!) and experienced scientists who will gladly put their hands up.

Thanks for looking through our new electronic format newsletter. Stay safe.

Clive Withinshaw

Managing Director

HACCP International