QCONZ celebrates 20 years in business
For the past two decades the auditing work of QCONZ has been helping New Zealand’s primary industry build an international reputation for sustainable, ethical and safe food production. As a result, many dairy processing companies in New Zealand are now well-placed to meet the growing demands of high-end overseas markets – where consumers will pay a premium for proof of provenance and traceability.
Our journey started when the government opened the door in the early 1990s to allow private companies to audit dairy farmers alongside the then, Ministry of Agriculture. Peter Wood, who was working privately in the dairy industry saw this as a golden opportunity. Peter recruited Murray Pedley and Josh Wheeler, who instinctively understood that food processors would always need auditing services and that good auditing services would increasingly be in demand.
Reflecting on when the company was first started in 1999, the team really just saw a great business opportunity in one of New Zealand’s fast expanding areas – the dairy industry.
At the time, we pitched for quite a large auditing contract for the NZ Dairy Group and won it. We quickly pulled together a team to service the client. Our promise was based around offering a quality, customer-focused auditing service so we built a company with quality as the inherent thread and named it Quality Consultants of New Zealand to drive the point home.
Now with a team of over 30 qualified assessors across the North Island, the business incorporates looking after small, medium and large scale farmers and suppliers, as well as several significant food processing operations. We look at risk management and ensure compliance across a range of dairy, poultry and fertiliser manufacturing and spreading clients – and we are pursuing interest from the sheep and beef sector. A major part of our work involves our technical capability. We have developed bespoke digital solutions for robust quality assurance within the primary sector. Our electronic data systems make auditing so much more accessible and user-friendly for the client.
In 2010, the company expanded offshore – opening an office in Victoria, Australia and an office in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, employing a total of 28 people. Josh Wheeler, who is responsible for assisting the Brazil team in committing to continuous improvement and innovation, says the dairy industry there is significant; “Having an office in Belo Horizonte puts QCONZ on the map in South America and helps those businesses at the forefront of the dairy sector really take the lead.”
Here in New Zealand, the auditing scope has broadened over the past 20 years, and still continues to do so as the world wants more. To meet demand, QCONZ has continually extended its services. We now also audit biosecurity, animal care, sustainability and environmental impact programmes. And that’s before we even begin to discuss our training and IT offerings.
Looking to the future, we have no doubt the auditing world will continue to focus on food quality and safety as consumer’s expectations for greater visibility and transparency grow, but if the prize is safer food, healthy products, better animal welfare and less environmental impact then we believe few will argue.