Today we heard we’d achieved an AA grade in our recent BRC audit.

And as there isn’t an AAA grade most of you will appreciate that’s a huge achievement. It’s also a massive credit to everyone in the business, to the systems and processes we use and to our technical leadership. But what does a BRC AA grade really mean?

We live in a world where ‘grades’ are at times abused or exaggerated: we ‘supersize’ our fast food, our credit cards can be ‘platinum’, we think we’re universally loved because we get endless ‘likes’ on Twitter.

And we’re the ones doing the ‘rating’ too: we’re asked to ‘score’ almost everything we purchase, every meal we eat, every holiday we take and every service we use. But how often do we purchase something that’s been highly rated only to be disappointed, whether it’s because of a five star Amazon product rating or a restaurant review website?

Dr Kohei Kawamura from Edinburgh University used complex mathematical modelling to test the credibility of these online ratings.
His findings?

In summary Dr Kawamura concluded the modelling suggestedindividuals tend to exaggerate their views to compete for influence and attention. In fact he recommended that we ‘discount’ most 5 star ratings because they’re likely to be exaggerations to the extreme.

In other words, to corrupt a ‘Trump-ism’, all too often, it seems, they are ‘Fake Reviews’.

Not so with BRC: it’s quite simply a world away from the other rating systems that overpopulate our busy lives.

For a start it isn’t based on opinion; as the CEO of BRC states: ‘our reputation depends on the precision and integrity of our auditing standards’.

It also has an august history: created by food retailers and the British Retail Consortium to ensure every part of the food manufacturing chain is worthy of consumer trust in every detail.

And BRC is a truly global auditing system – carried out now in 130 countries around the world.

BRC is rigorous: its database holds records from more than 200,000 audits and BRC auditors spend some 288,000 hours a year on the factory floor so it’s fair to claim they really know what to look for.

In fact, BRC is the largest GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) on the planet.

And for those who know how challenging it is to achieve ISO9000, BRC contains many of the same quality standards, but is then extended way beyond that to provide a more prescriptive framework for risk assessment, hygiene and quality control.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that organisations achieving the coveted BRC AA rating are justifiably proud of that achievement. But it’s not just about achieving the standard; it’s also about knowing that everything the business does is contributing to consumer confidence in great food products and, in our own particular case, in many great British food products.

So please forgive me if I indulge our pride in this achievement and take a little more time to celebrate the fact that, when it comes to BRC, Fourayes has twoayes!

Phil Acock

Managing Director of Fourayes, vice-chairman of British Apples & Pears, Fruitician and Mad Scientist.

As one of our delicious compotes features in their top-selling chilled product, we were invited along to the opening in order that consumers could try the product and meet the people involved in preparing the exceptional food they choose.

We always welcome these types of requests because there are never enough opportunities to talk with the people who, ultimately, can send a vote of confidence, or no confidence, in our work through their buying decisions.

The chilled product in question had been television-advertised and represented one of the retailer’s best-ever-selling desserts.

We fielded a strong team so that we could record consumer comments and reactions. The results just reminded me, once again, how important these events really are.

After several days of successfully trialling the finished dessert, there was one response that really summed up all the others:

Just like every trial there’s a jury and I’m pleased to say that the jury, in this case, was pretty much unanimous in acclaiming the chilled dessert as the best of its type, ever. Nevertheless, it’s great to get that at first hand from the people who give a true vote of confidence by choosing where to spend their own money.

Phil Acock

Managing Director of Fourayes, vice-chairman of British Apples & Pears, Fruitician and Mad Scientist.