The decisive role of the Quality Manager

Because the growth of agri-food companies also depends on quality and risk control and food safety, the role of the quality manager has become decisive in a context of intense competition, supported by pressure to reduce costs and by tastes and preferences. by consumers.

Its role in the agri-food sector has continued to evolve since its inception in the 1990s. In addition to ensuring consumer safety, its role today is closely linked to the issues and challenges, but also to the demands and regulations of the food industry sector.

“The level of demand has increased considerably. Consumer and food protection standards (emanating from consumers themselves) and the “values” (environment, animal welfare, etc.) that the European Union adopts weigh heavily on the entire agri-food sector. With the idea of ​​green growth in institutions getting stronger and stronger, the issue of environmental rules is central. In this context, how to guarantee the growth of agri-food companies? asks BlueKanGo in a white paper entitled “Ensuring the growth of agri-food companies through quality and risk management and food safety”.

Strong pressure that requires impeccable organization

“Part of the answers paradoxically emerges from these constraints. The industry’s constant need to respond to current and future regulations raises questions for its partners (software publishers, regulatory players, etc.) and encourages them to pool their skills to provide increasingly relevant services. Technology and innovation appear, once again, at the center of this growth. Companies that benefit from it will be equipped to face these new challenges and focus on their business. (…) the agri-food company must provide its customers with the best products at the best cost, respecting regulatory requirements and minimizing risks to the consumer, its personnel, its environment, goods, the environment. image, brand… Controlling the quality of your products, reducing and controlling all potential risks is becoming an absolute necessity. More than ever, the agri-food company’s objectives are to control its budget, keep its teams motivated, satisfy customers with high quality requirements and reduce accidents and risks… Strong pressure that demands impeccable organization. (…) In this context, the agri-food company cannot neglect a single aspect of its activity. It must monitor all links in the chain at the same time: producers/breeders, suppliers, subcontractors, customers and consumers. Another frequent constraint is the organization of production in several remote locations. This monitoring involves strict management of QSE-HSA (Quality, Safety, Environment and Hygiene Food Safety) involving all employees and partners, obtaining immediate information from them”, reports BlueKanGo.

A true manager, listening to customers, suppliers and your company, the Quality Manager must design, implement and monitor the company’s quality policy. A quality manager usually has one of these degrees: BTS in Bioanalysis and Controls, BTS in Biotechnology, BTS in Quality in Food Industries and Bioindustries, BTS in Agricultural Biological and Biotechnology Analysis, BTS in Food Science and Technology, DUT in Biological Engineering , biological and biochemical analysis options, DUT food and biological industries. At the bac +3 level, certain professional licenses specialized in the food industry are a way to open the doors to various professional masters, such as the professional master’s degree in quality management, the professional master’s degree in hygiene, safety, environment or the master’s degree in processes industrial. In addition to a university degree, a specialized engineering degree can also be of interest to industrialists in the food industry.

Diverse skills and knowledge

Define quality criteria, implement tools to assess them, transmit the quality culture, change habits, establish a quality assurance system, aim for certification, etc. are objectives to be achieved by the manager. A job that requires a wide variety of knowledge and skills. The quality manager must, therefore, know the norms, rules, legal obligations, be comfortable with collecting information, observation, analysis, diagnosis, synthesis, be concrete in identifying steps and planning progress, be able to conduct meetings , manage conflict situations and demonstrate listening skills and a sense of negotiation.

A position that has become strategic within the agri-food company

Quality, safety and the environment are more than ever part of the missions of this position, which has become strategic within the agri-food company. The Quality manager thus has a great responsibility that requires multiple skills, namely that of monitoring the evolution of regulations. Its function is, therefore, complex between the management of complaints, audits, knowledge of certifications, regulatory monitoring, etc. A key figure in this sector, he controls the entire production chain, from the arrival of raw materials and ingredients to packaging. The Quality Manager must therefore ensure the safety of the food as it leaves the factory. He is thus the guarantor of hygiene and safety conditions in the manufacture of products.

Indispensable for the development of an agri-food business, the quality manager thus guarantees the health and organoleptic quality of ready-to-eat products. A key position, he is responsible for the brand’s reputation with customers. In addition, to fulfill his mission, he collaborates with all services, he must know how to analyze problems, but also provide solutions. His role is transversal within the company. Your interpersonal skills will be essential for the exercise of this profession.

In summary, a quality manager must relieve the manager of the food company throughout the production chain. Much sought after in large companies in the agri-food sector, it can progress to management or specialization positions. The food quality manager therefore has a decisive role, as he is responsible for monitoring each stage of the product’s manufacture. Its area of ​​operation is wide, from the domain of the manufacturing stages, to the knowledge of the raw material, passing through legislation and even legislation.

Obtain or maintain certification, a true seal of quality

In the exercise of their profession, the quality manager participates in the development of the company’s quality policy and ensures its implementation and monitoring with the aim of guaranteeing, above all, the food safety of the products. Its role is also to obtain or maintain certification, a true seal of quality for an agri-food company.

The quality manager thus ensures the management of the entire project, also supervising the cleaning of equipment and facilities. He validates the health safety of the product according to the specifications and norms of the regulations, is responsible for the development of preventive and/or corrective actions, if necessary. He also trains all employees in quality, safety and hygiene. Its other mission is to enforce health regulations within the company. He is the point of contact for veterinary and fraud prevention services. The same goes for customers. It monitors consumer visits and tracks their complaints.

The quality manager must also master the company’s technologies, become familiar with the different professions present in the company, know how to put his knowledge at the service of the company according to its needs. He must be able to surround himself with a team that allows him to optimize the quality system, correcting any errors. The exercise of this work requires a great capacity for listening, analysis and synthesis. All these qualities will be essential for him to fulfill his missions within the company and establish trusting relationships with the control services or even with customers.

An increasingly transversal role

The role of the quality manager continues to evolve and expand, becoming more and more transversal. This is increasingly involved from product design to distribution. In contact with suppliers, customers, he can also be a trainer, a facilitator. New titles of positions and training are also being developed, proving the diversification of its function. He may be responsible for quality, safety and the environment, for example.

In the food industry, the quality manager now manages both “procedure” and “product” quality. The presence of a quality manager is therefore essential. The specific standards and certifications for this sector must be known to him. For example, you can participate in the implementation of the “International Food Standard” (IFS) certification.

It sets up the quality assurance system with the procedures and methods to be followed in the manufacturing process or labeling, for example. Controls the quality of raw materials and products during manufacturing and finished products and their compliance with the specifications that specify the norms and rules to be observed.

The Quality Manager according to the size of the company

Reporting to the company or factory director, the Quality manager may have other roles depending on the size of the company. He may only be responsible for production in a small company. He may be close to the field or manage quality policy with a strategic quality director role. In a large company, the Quality manager can be part of a team, under the responsibility of a hierarchical superior who conducts the Quality policy himself. In a large group, it will be more focused on the strategic aspects of the role.

A constantly evolving culture of quality

With the arrival of ISO standards and certifications in the 1990s, quality-related positions developed strongly with a Quality culture that has been developing steadily in recent years. In addition, consumer demands are multiplying around strengthening food security. Quality managers are therefore increasingly subject to complex and diverse restrictions, requirements and regulations. It must respond to the application of new regulations related to food safety (hygiene, labelling, etc.), to the demands of mass distribution and to increasingly demanding specifications. Requirements at the heart of the current concerns of the quality manager who must also master the arrival of digital technology in the sector.

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