Quality Assurance

We at Hafro have defi­ned qua­lity stan­dards for each pro­duct. They are based on the requi­re­ments of our custo­mers and the legis­la­tor. They include not only the sen­sory, phy­si­cal, che­mi­cal and bio­lo­gi­cal para­me­ters of the pro­duct as such, but the ent­ire value chain. Qua­lity mana­ger Mar­ga­rete Doe­ring pro­vi­des inte­res­ting insights on how qua­lity assurance at Hafro works, the role of sustai­na­bi­lity and what chal­len­ges she faces on a daily basis.

Ms Döring, as QA-representative you are responsible for securing quality at Hamburger Feinfrost. How did you end up in this field of work?

I have always been inte­rested in gro­ce­ries. Very soon I rea­li­zed that my pro­fes­sio­nal path would lead me into the food indus­try. During my bache­lor stu­dies of domestic (sci­ence) and nut­ri­tio­nal sci­ence I could build up sound know­ledge which I inten­si­fied during my mas­ter stu­dies of food Sci­ence. Since I wan­ted to apply my know­ledge and work inter­di­sci­pli­nary, it made sense to start a career in qua­lity assurance.

Margarete Doering

Qua­lity Assurance

What do you get out of working in sea food quality assurance?

Gene­rally it requi­res an under­stan­ding of the whole sup­ply chain from the raw mate­rial to the packed food. You inter­act with diverse sta­ke­hol­ders along the value chain, con­ti­nuously having to handle new chal­len­ges.

Intern­ally and extern­ally you work for example in bet­ween pro­cu­re­ment, sales and pro­ces­sing, as well as sup­pliers, public aut­ho­ri­ties and labo­ra­to­ries. Fur­ther­more the pro­duct range with all the dif­fe­rent spe­cies, pro­ces­sed and unpro­ces­sed pro­ducts, pre­pa­ra­ti­ons and raw mate­ri­als is very diverse. The result of that is that varied requi­re­ments arise. One thing is for sure: it never gets boring.

 

Why is your work so important for the company?

Wit­hin the com­pany I somehow rep­re­sent the view of the custo­mer. I expect pro­duct safety, con­su­mer pro­tec­tion and the hig­hest pos­si­ble qua­lity. Solely with a qua­lity that meets the expec­ta­ti­ons, we can gain trust and gene­rate long-term custo­mer rela­ti­ons­hips. The demands and expec­ta­ti­ons of con­su­mers towards pre­mium and pre­cisely manu­fac­tu­red pro­ducts are gro­wing steadily. Same app­lies for the government. I make sure, that the ent­i­rety of the cha­rac­te­ris­tic attri­bu­tes and the con­sis­tency of the pro­duct match the gui­de­li­nes. Fur­ther­more I super­vise and opti­mize all the necessary pro­ces­ses.

How does HAFRO as a company ensure the promised quality?

At first it is a ques­tion of pro­cu­re­ment. Our employees in the purcha­sing depart­ment and in qua­lity assurance all have expert know­ledge in the field of sea food. That is the basis. This is the only way qua­lity in this pre­ten­tious com­mo­dity group can be dis­tin­guis­hed and pas­sed on. Addi­tio­nally trus­ting and long-term rela­ti­ons­hips with sup­pliers are main­tai­ned to trans­late the qua­lity expec­ta­ti­ons into the early sta­ges of the value chain. Often cul­tu­ral or lan­guage bar­ri­ers have to be over­come. We are sup­por­ted by our inter­nal sourcing unit, the Euro­group and varies exter­nal agen­cies. Local coor­di­na­tors, fre­quent inspec­tions, the selec­tion of opti­mal sup­pliers and a smooth pro­cess can be gua­ran­teed this way. Cer­tainly they can­not replace a per­so­nal eva­lua­tion on-site. The­re­fore our employees regu­larly tra­vel to the coun­tries of ori­gin. If a sup­plier gets listed, he com­mits to the HAFRO gui­de­li­nes for sup­pliers. These gui­de­li­nes con­tain social com­pon­ents (such as fair salary, no child labor) as well as eco­lo­gi­cal requi­re­ments (e.g. fishing methods and quota) and they exceed rele­vant legal requi­re­ments con­cer­ning pro­duc­tion, packing and trans­port.

 

In prac­tice we make sure that our qua­lity stan­dards are met by means of several inspec­tions in the coun­try of ori­gin, through vete­ri­na­ri­ans at the port of entry, in the cold sto­rage house, in the partner’s labo­ra­tory and in the HAFRO expe­ri­men­tal kit­chen. We coope­rate with an ISO-cer­ti­fied cold sto­rage house and ship­ping com­pa­nies. Main­tai­ning the coo­ling chain and other aspects of HACCP are man­datory. The result is the com­pli­ance with the HAFRO qua­lity requi­re­ments along the whole chain – from the pro­du­cer to the con­su­mer, from farm to fork as it is said.

 

What is the role of certificates?

Our high level IFS bro­ker cer­ti­fi­ca­tion shows that pro­ces­ses, safety and the qua­lity of our pro­duc­tions is con­stantly being main­tai­ned and that we have a sound manage­ment sys­tem. Through audits of exter­nal cer­ti­fiers the entre­pre­neu­rial pro­ces­ses are con­ti­nuously ques­tio­ned and impro­ved.

Since for HAFRO qua­lity also means sustai­na­bi­lity, we are proudly Bio, MSC and ASC cer­ti­fied. Our sustainable pro­duct range grows con­stantly and enjoys a high prio­rity. The before men­tio­ned cer­ti­fi­ca­tes also play a vital role in the choice of our sup­pliers.

What happens if goods do not meet the HAFRO quality requirements or being damaged during storage?

At first the lot is blo­cked decla­ring the rea­sons, both in our inventory manage­ment sys­tem and at our storekee­per. After con­sul­ting the sup­plier the goods are retrie­ved or exter­mi­na­ted on the spot, pos­si­bly after informing the respon­si­ble aut­ho­ri­ties. During my time at HAFRO we have not had a case like that, high­ligh­t­ing the good choice of sup­pliers. 

What does a normal work day look like for you?

Unfor­tu­n­a­tely or for­tu­n­a­tely every day is a little bit dif­fe­rent and you are always con­fron­ted with all kinds of chal­len­ges. Typi­cally I am invol­ved with the plan­ning and exe­cu­tion of the qua­lity inspec­tion of inco­m­ing goods at our cold store, ali­gning the inspec­tion plan, collec­ting sam­ple data, sen­sors, sigh­t­ing the reports from the Rapid Alert Sys­tem for Food and Feed from the European Com­mis­sion, crea­ting and inspec­ting labels towards con­for­mity with legal requi­re­ments, spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons, promp­t­ing and actua­li­zing supplier’s docu­ments and many other things. Days pass pretty fast that way.

What current challenges do you see in the industry?

There are various chal­len­ges. Non-decla­red, added water in fish, prawns and sea­food is a big topic. We accept respon­si­bi­lity and we want to act as a good example in the indus­try. Openly dis­cus­sing the topic and a cor­rect ingre­dient list are man­datory for us.

How do you handle consumer complaints at HAFRO?

For us con­su­mer com­p­laint is always a chance to improve our qua­lity and our ser­vice. After recei­ving a com­p­laint the goal is to find the rea­son and do bet­ter in future and a  of course find sui­ta­ble solu­tion as quickly as pos­si­ble. In case of rea­son­able com­p­laints the goods are re-credi­ted or repla­ced strai­ght away. We strive to con­vince and satisfy our custo­mers in the long term.