Arran producers have given SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier Scheme Approval) the thumbs up, following recognition of the Taste of Arran brand by the food industry’s newest food safety and quality assurance scheme.
Tailored to the needs of the burgeoning local food market, the scheme was piloted one year ago by Scottish Food Quality Certification Ltd (SFQC) prior to a national launch, as a robust but easy to access quality standard for the small and medium sized food manufacturer.
Alastair Dobson managing director of Taste of Arran explained: “The commitment and enthusiasm of our island producers is a key ingredient in ensuring the quality of our product. However, we needed to find an affordable and manageable benchmark to demonstrate the quality of our products to the wider marketplace.
“By implementing SALSA, we now have a simple-to-follow quality assurance scheme that has produced business efficiencies and I would recommend it to any small producer looking to sell beyond their local market.”
SALSA was developed after four food chain organisations – National Farmers’
Union, Food and Drink Federation, British Hospitality Association and British Retail Consortium – recognised the need for a quality assurance scheme that is geared to the smaller producer.
David Whiteford, SFQC chairman, presented the award to The Taste of Arran.
He said: “We are delighted that this well known producers’ group has achieved SALSA. When smaller food providers are courted by retailers and food service companies, quality assurance demands from different buyers often leads to confusion as to which level is required.
“With its strong local emphasis, we are sure that that they will be able to capitalise on new markets knowing that they can compete against the best in the marketplace thanks to having controls in place at every stage of production.”
The company also received advisory support through Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in the pilot stages of the SALSA project. The support is part of an overall service provided by HIE to food and drink companies looking to assess the relevant food safety or quality assurance scheme, and can be accessed by contacting local HIE offices.
Gordon Kinniburgh of the Island Cheese Company, Isle of Arran, said: “The process was relatively painless thanks to the guidance of our SALSA mentor.
It was time well spent, compared to the time we normally spend on trying to justify our worthiness to customers in the form of risk assessments, quality control manuals etc.”
The scheme has encouraged interest from retailers and companies in buying products from smaller companies, says Mark Georgeson, HIE’s senior food and drink manager. “Consumers take food safety for granted these days and, when buying produce, it is vital that companies display a recognised quality accreditation to potential buyers.
“The food and drink sector continues to show strong progress in the Highlands and Islands. With a growing market for local food, driven by issues such as health, sustainability, food safety and fine dining, affordable food safety accreditation plays an essential role in the local food toolkit.”
Further information is available from Carole Inglis on 01463 244552