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Delegates of the IV SGS Food Forum “Quality and Food Safety: Raising the Benchmark in the Context of Globalization” held on 12-13 July 2012 in Moscow discussed threats and opportunities of the new market space as well as effective quality management tools.

The Forum brought together more than 170 professionals in the food industry, including representatives of governmental authorities and public organizations, manufacturers of agricultural raw materials and finished products, suppliers of ingredients and packing, retailers and wholesalers, representatives of the catering sector and food industry experts from Russia, Moldova, Georgia, Lithuania, Germany and the Netherlands. The conference was organized by SGS (headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland), the world leader in inspection, verification, testing and certification.

The first session of the Forum was devoted to upcoming changes to the current technical regulation system for the food industry of the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union and to the consequences of these changes for market players. As noted in her speech Olga Kostyleva, Deputy Chief of Technical Regulation and Standardization of Rosstandart, Russia’s accession to the WTO entails changes into the already approved Technical Regulations of the Customs Union. Primarily, it concerns the fundamental Technical Regulation “On Food Safety”. Expert of the Union for Consumer Market Players Tatiana Krikun continued the subject, expressing business views over the sector’s reform and emphasized the importance of the availability and timeliness of information about new game rules.

Key principles laid down in the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), which should be observed by Russia as a full-fledged member of the WTO, were presented at the next session by Natalya Suvorinа, Head of Non-Tariff Measures at the Trade Negotiations Department of the Ministry for Economic Development of Russia. In particular, one of these principles is the principle of harmonization of legal requirements between WTO members. Ron Wacker, Global Food Testing Business Development Manager in SGS, shared how the principle is being implemented for the EU food sector, while noting that even in this single economic space there are differences in the requirements for food safety.

However, as demonstrated throughout the Forum, Russian food market players are not waiting for harmonization of legal frameworks and are working hard over bringing the requirements towards themselves and their supply chain partners in compliance with international standards. As Victoria Goldobina, Head of Food Safety at the “Sochi 2014” Organizing Committee, said ”all food suppliers to the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi will have to be certified against ISO 22000:2005”. Producers are introducing international practices of managing allergens voluntarily despite the fact that the national requirements are by far less stringent than in many other countries, particularly in the EU. Certification against one of the schemes recognized by GFSI under international accreditation is mandatory when delivering a number of food categories to METRO Group in Russia. One of the GFSI-recognized certification schemes – FSSC 22000, which is gaining in popularity among food market players in Russia, was presented by Cornelie Glerum, General Secretary of the non-profit organization Foundation for Food Safety Certification based in Netherlands and owning the FSSC 22000 scheme.

Human factor was in the focus of the round table discussion. Whatever level of automation would be implemented in the enterprise, machine is not able to completely replace people. Top managers of Belaya Dacha Trading, Nestle WaterCoolers Service, Moscow Nut Company, X5 Retail Group and Achan Russia shared their ideas on how to reduce employee turnover, motivate and engage employees and how to grow leaders with shining eyes

Keen interest of the audience was awaken by presentation by Tetra Pack, Metro Cash & Carry, real,-Hypermarket, Zdorovaya Ferma, Nestle Food, Unilever-Rus and QMS Center. Speakers shared their practical experience of how to implement quality management programs that give measurable results, including in financial terms. In particular, examples were given for traceability management through automation of production, for productivity and income growth through the use of Lean principles and statistical methods for quality control, for reduction of reject rates due to professional complaints handling and supplier management.

The joint master-class by SGS and InterConsult over integrated management systems concluded the Forum and focused on how to get meaningful and measurable results. This is the objective to achieve specific economic results that is typical to food market players investing in quality and safety today, in the context of globalization. Inevitably, new players will come on the domestic market and it’s likely that they will have more efficient technologies, higher price flexibility and corporate sustainability. The IV SGS Food Forum demonstrated that many of our compatriots are already getting ready to meet them fully equipped.

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognised as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 70,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,350 offices and laboratories around the world.