According to a leading industry consultant, there is currently a deficit in auditors who can look at the food supply chain.
This deficit means that demand is not being met, leading to a lack of visibility in the supply chain – and creating major challenges for the auditors that already work in the industry.
Qualified auditors needed
If you are looking to retrain and take on a new food job, you may wish to consider getting qualifications as an auditor. They are currently very much in demand, as it is difficult for consultants and firms to find auditors who have the right qualifications to do the work.
Vincent Doumeizel is the Vice-President of Food and Sustainability at Lloyd’s Register, and he works with auditors on a regular basis. Speaking at the Institute of Food Science and Technology’s 2018 Spring Conference, held at the University of Birmingham, he underlined the challenges that are currently faced by his consulting firm.
“The levels of requirement for standards keep rising all the time, so it’s very difficult to train new auditors,” he said. “Auditing is not an easy job, you really need to get passionate to do it and it’s not like anyone can do it. The value of your audit deepens with the value of the auditor, so we need to find the right people to meet the huge and fast-growing demand.”
Lack of visibility
Not only is it difficult to find auditors who can perform detailed audits, but this is also causing knock-on effects for the visibility of the supply chain. The fact that traceability is limited means that businesses are not able to discipline their suppliers when they break codes of practice. This leaves the problems to fester and continue, rather than being fixed and improved.
“There are up to 20 tiers of suppliers in the food supply chain, but most big brands only have visibility of the first tier – possibly on the second if they have a very good relationship,” said Doumeizel. “This means 16 to 17 layers of supplier are invisible to them.”
All of this means that things have to change – and fast. In order to meet the growing demand for auditors, Doumeizel believes there are three areas in which the role will change. First, more auditors have to be trained and brought into the industry, which means money must be spent on education and food recruitment, and that auditor salaries may rise. Secondly, it is likely that remote auditing will be introduced. Rather than existing as the only method of auditing, it is likely to go hand-in-hand with the conventional in-person approach, allowing auditors to work in teams with one representative serving as eyes and ears.
The integration of artificial intelligence is the third development that Doumeizel foresees for the future. All of this will help the existing auditors to work with more businesses at once and get the audits done faster, as well as bringing in more auditors to the existing pool. This will perhaps solve the current crisis – but only if improvements can be made in all three areas.
Certainly, the most pressing need right now is for more qualified auditors, so this is a great opportunity for jobseekers. Sign up to our job alerts if you are currently searching, and consider getting yourself onto a course that will give you the qualifications you will need. It’s important that you have a strong belief in improving the food industry in order to become an auditor – the work can be dull or stressful if you do not believe in the importance of the tasks you perform.