ICA’s quality work is based on clear routines to achieve traceability and control in respect of the product range and the handling of products.
In 2013 work continued with audits, traceability checks, reviews of product contents and labelling, product testing and structured quality assurance in logistics and stores.
ICA attaches great importance to quality assurance in operations and is far ahead when it comes to certification within the grocery retail sector. The Swedish sourcing operations have been certified to ISO 9001 since 2012 and the logistics operations were certified to BRC S&D the same year. In 2013 the Asian sourcing operations were also certified to ISO 9001 and in Norway a warehouse was certified to BRC S&D during the year. In addition, a number of Swedish stores are certified to the Swedish quality standard for food safety in stores.
The most important benefit of certification is that the customers and ICA stores can feel secure knowing that the Group's sourcing and logistics processes comply with the quality requirements in ICA’s Good Business.
Customers should feel safe shopping at ICA. Every product the Group sells should meet the quality demands set by the Group and associated stakeholders. This is achieved by means of regular supplier audits, reviews of product contents and labelling, and product testing. ICA also carries out systematic quality assurance work in its logistics operations and in stores. The overall goal is that 80% of ICA’s corporate brand food suppliers will be quality certified.
Sterling work on food safety
Consumer confidence is one of ICA’s most important assets. ICA customers need to know they can rely on the content of the Group's products. Quality work during the first quarter focused heavily on the international scandal involving horsemeat in processed beef dishes. In Sweden, nearly 100 of ICA’s private label products were analysed for preventive purposes and three products were recalled. In the Baltics, Rimi recalled a number of products based on information from the relevant EU authorities. ICA Norway recalled one private label product after an analysis revealed traces of horsemeat.
ICA demanded analysis and details from all the private label product suppliers involved. ICA also asked suppliers of branded products to account for how they obtain assurance that the declaration of ingredients on the products is correct. ICA is engaged in ongoing dialogue with the Swedish National Food Agency regarding improvements and what ICA can do.
ICA always uses meticulous routines and controls to ensure that the food it sells is safe, but the events in 2013 make it clear that the current routines do not provide adequate protection from fraud and deception. The scandal is now a worldwide industry problem. Going forward, ICA will invest further in developing methods to minimise the risk of this type of fraud. More extensive checks on certain product groups such as fish products, cheese and juices will ensure greater protection from fraud while also providing ICA with better ways of working.
In Sweden ICA will work closely with other representatives of the sector and the National Food Agency. ICA is a member of the Consumer Goods Forum and work on food fraud has commenced via its quality group the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). This will provide ICA with good international guidance on the food areas that may be considered a greater risk.