For years, the food and beverage manufacturing industry has been in the midst of a struggle between two opposing forces – efficiency versus quality. On the one hand, companies are looking to speed the "farm to fork" cycle through more effective supply chain management. On the other hand, manufacturers know the role quality management plays in delivering products that meet regulations and are safe for consumers. The challenge: How to reconcile these seemingly contradictory goals and link the manufacturing quality to efficiency in the supply chain to produce quality products manufactured efficiently.
Why then are supply chain management and quality management so difficult to reconcile?
A number of reasons leap to mind. A genuine disconnect between C-level management and those responsible for ensuring compliance with strict quality standards and procedures ranks near the top of the list. Senior-level management is acutely aware of how effective supply chain management affects the bottom line. Accordingly, management aligns business strategies with streamlining the manufacturing process. Quality sometimes lacks the same level of visibility at the most senior levels of an organization, although it shouldn't. This despite its inarguable importance and contribution to the bottom line. The only way to address this disconnect is for organizations to create a culture of quality that begins at the top and permeates the entire organization, including the various channels of the supply chain.
The FDA's increasing focus on the food and beverage industry and a spate of pending legislation are driving a renewed push toward a systematic approach to quality. The agency intends to develop binding regulations to serve as a foundation for a prevention-oriented food safety system.