3rd May 2023

An inCREDible year: Listening, Reviewing and Implementing

With its new Chief Executive at the helm, 2022 saw the team back out on the road with a series of open meetings to understand from the ground the challenges producers were facing first hand.

The objective of the meetings was to provide an overview of what QMS had delivered since 2020, plus listen to the farming community, seek their views on how the team could improve the Quality Assurance process and build trust that QMS had their best interest at its heart. It also provided a platform to introduce Food Integrity Assurance (FIA), QMS’s new Quality Assurance provider

The meetings highlighted that Industry was looking for greater transparency and engagement when it came to setting standards, with more input from independent producers. They also wanted a clear process outlined when it came to managing reputational issues and appeals.

QMS is now eight months on from the initial meetings, so what has changed?

  • There has been an update to the makeup of the standards-setting bodies with more independent producers and less QMS board members.

  • The full review process has been slowed down, allowing for representatives to meet and discuss inputs with their organisations as the process is underway.

  • New additional steps have been added, whereby members are consulted on changes ahead of them being finalised.

  • Feedback was also given on the design and layout of the standards document. In essence, segmenting legislation v QMS standards, which will be launched in 2024 with the Cattle and Sheep Standards.

The most positive evolution is the launch of QMS’s new ‘Membership Rules’. A ‘go to’ printed document covering membership of the schemes, essentially covering terms and conditions. Membership Rules will replace what is currently assessed under standard section ‘Compliance with the law and scheme reputation’.

Sarah Millar, Chief Executive, QMS said. “A year in position has allowed the team to work closely with stakeholders from across the supply chain to feed into our new Membership Rules and design a governance process following extensive feedback from industry. They create the platform for a clearer process when managing reputational issues and appeals. They are objective, clear and underpinned by a simple scoring matrix, assessing risk on a sliding scale with an independent external appeals panel to give further confidence to producers.”

QMS’s Quality Assurance strategy will evolve and grow with continuous improvement at its core. However, we know working with industry across the supply chain is key, collaboration will only support the growth of a more resilient Scottish Red Meat Industry and create the foundations that make our Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb GI, and Specially Selected Pork brands relevant to consumers in years to come.”

Our members should expect to receive the new member rules through their letter box on early May and the rules will go live on Monday 1st July 2023. QMS has created a Frequently Asked Questions document that is available to view on the QMS website, and if anyone has any queries, they should be directed to info@qmscotland.co.uk

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