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Food quality key to customer loyalty - survey

By Joe Whitworth , 16-Jan-2013
Last updated on 17-Jan-2013 at 14:38 GMT

Food quality, a wide product range and product reliability are the three most important things to win customer loyalty, according to a survey.

Dora et al looked at the importance of food quality management systems (FQMS) in small and medium-sized food-based enterprises (SMEs) in industries including bakery and confectionery.

It uses Luning, Marcelis and Jongen’s (2002) definition that a quality management system comprises “the activities and decisions performed in an organization to produce and maintain a product with the desired quality level against minimal costs”.

The results, published in the journal Food Control, revealed that the most important benefits of a quality management system were reduced production costs and increased productivity.  

Food quality tops chart

Food quality was cited by 83% of respondents as key to customer loyalty with delivery lead-time the least important with 8.6%.

In terms of business strategy, food quality came top again with 68.6% of the vote while cost and innovation were joint bottom with just 8.6% each.  

Benefits of a FQMS included reduced cost of production, increased productivity and profitability and reduced customer complaints, according to respondents.

However, the top three barriers to implementing a FQMS were inadequate process control techniques, lack of training and of resources.

The study involved Belgium, Hungary and Germany and the meat, chocolate, confectionery, bakery, and packaged fruits and vegetables sectors.

Only 50% of the Belgian companies used Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), whereas all of the German and Hungarian firms had the system in place. 

Question sections

The first section covered company information, the second section was about the company's acquaintances with the FQM system and the third section extracted information on perceived benefits and barriers of implementing FQM. 

Restrictions included the small sample size of 35 SME representatives and biase toward small companies, only five types of food-product manufacturing companies in three European countries were involved and the majority of the respondents were top managers which might have resulted in answers to certain questions. 

But there are 18 SMEs involved in meat, 10 in bread and confectionery, 3 in chocolate and 4 in other food productions.

However, the researchers added that a future study will be carried out to other European SMEs from diverse food sectors.

The confectionery, chocolate and meat sectors are more advanced than bakery, and packaged fruits and vegetables sectors, with respect to the implementation of quality management tools and techniques, concluded the researchers.

Source: Food Control

Volume 31, Issue 2, June 2013, Pages 607-616, doi: 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.12.006

Food quality management system: Reviewing assessment strategies and a feasibility study for European food small and medium-sized enterprises”

Authors: Manoj Dora, Maneesh Kumar, Dirk Van Goubergen, Adrienn Molnar, Xavier Gellynck