Supplier’s Evesham packhouse achieves globally recognised standard for food safety and quality management in just three months

Nationwide Produce has been awarded BRC Grade AA certification for its new packhouse operations in Evesham just three months after applying for it.

BRC (British Retail Consortium) certification is a globally recognised standard for food safety and quality management systems.

As such, it opens doors to partnerships with businesses worldwide, many of whom insist on working exclusively with suppliers holding an A or B grade.

As Nationwide Produce looks ahead, its vision is not only to maintain its Grade AA standard but to strive for the coveted AA* grade, the highest level in unannounced programmes.

Tim O’Malley, group MD of Nationwide Produce, reflected on the company’s investment in Evesham and its efforts to secure BRC certification at lightning speed.

“We bought our first cold store depot in Evesham in January 2018,” he said. “The plan was for it to last for around five years before we’d need to look for new, bigger premises. We filled it in 18 months but luckily found a new, larger depot just up the road in 2019.

“We more than doubled the size of the new depot recently as it’s more efficient to have everything under one roof. So, that left us with a spare depot. We took the decision earlier this year to turn the original depot into a packhouse.

“We’re seeing an increasing demand for packed produce from our meal-kit customers, caterers, the foodservice sector, and retail. So, we invested heavily in machinery and staff to install a row of production lines to sort, pack and label produce into just about every type of pack conceivable.

“The problem we then had was the usual ‘chicken before the egg’ dilemma in this industry of many customers demanding BRC. With the dangling carrot of a big order for the winter season, we set ourselves the difficult goal of achieving BRC certification in three months. Not easy… but we did it. Not only that, we achieved Grade AA.

“In the BRC Auditor’s own words: ‘To achieve this standard with a new business after only three months is very unusual. What Nicola, Tony and the team have done is amazing… and that is not a word I often use during audits’.”

Nationwide added that it plans to further expand its customer base; develop its people and teams; compete more effectively in the fresh produce industry; and embrace innovative packaging, design, and sustainable practices.