Food Innovation Wales has offered vital support to Welsh food manufacturer Lewis Pies during the Covid-19 outbreak to help them continue to supply their products to retailers.
Valid certification from third-party food safety organisations such as the Brand Reputation Compliance Global Standards (BRCGS) and Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) is essential for many food and drink manufacturers to supply retailers.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has posed a number of challenges for the way manufacturers complete both internal and third-party audits against these standards. With socially distanced and remote working practices, additional manufacturing stresses, and limited resources due to staff being furloughed, businesses have had to adapt to maintain their auditing schedules.
A number of businesses have turned to Food Innovation Wales for support, including Swansea-based Lewis Pies. As a supplier of pastry products, breads and cakes across Wales and the UK for more than 80 years, Lewis Pies saw a reduction in demand for their products from the foodservice sector due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
“It continues to be a challenging time for Welsh food and drink manufacturers but Food Innovation Wales is on hand to support companies with maintaining and obtaining third party certification, which is so vital in securing retailer listings.”
With many members of staff furloughed, including key members able to undertake internal audits, and the added pressure of their BRCGS certification being up for renewal at the start of June, Lewis Pies contacted ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University for support.
ZERO2FIVE, one of three Food Innovation Wales centres located across Wales, assisted Lewis to undertake remote internal audits and delivered internal auditor training to the company’s remaining onsite technical staff. As part of the remote audit, ZERO2FIVE carried out a desktop review of the company’s procedures, process documentation, and factory and training records. This was followed up with video conferences to discuss any actions required.
The company said support from ZERO2FIVE was vital in enabling it to maintain its internal auditing schedule and the company successfully received a six-month extension to their BRCGS certification in June.
Emma Burgess, technical manager at Lewis Pies said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been a very tough time for the business, losing a massive amount of our trade overnight along with a reduction in staff numbers and expertise. Throughout this period, the support supplied by Food Innovation Wales has been invaluable. It has been a time full of uncertainty and pressure and knowing that the skills and knowledge are there to support us has been amazing.”
Professor David Lloyd of Food Innovation Wales said: “It continues to be a challenging time for Welsh food and drink manufacturers but Food Innovation Wales is on hand to support companies with maintaining and obtaining third party certification, which is so vital in securing retailer listings. We encourage companies to get in touch with their nearest food centre to find out more about the funded support we can offer.”