The essence of quality: at the source
When dealing with perishable goods, quality begins at the source. Our growers are carefully vetted in terms of expertise, experience, reliability and continuity. Particular attention is given to the use of fertilisers, additives and pesticides, and to sustainability. We expect all our suppliers to agree in writing to our strict procedure descriptions and business ethic. In return, we offer continuity in business as long as standards are met.
Next, we check handling procedures in picking, selecting, storing, packaging and shipping produce from source to warehouse. Temperature control, responsible use of pesticides and hygiene are important aspects of our quality assurance process. And in countries where rules are more lenient, we still expect our suppliers to meet our strict demands.
The essence of quality: storage and logistics
Once in our warehouses, the care continues. Each delivery is entered into a track-and-trace system that ensures that the exact location and status of every item is known at all times. Each storage area has individual climate control, ensuring the correct temperatures and humidity for each type of produce. Our facilities are equipped to permit longer-term storage when necessary, utilising our advanced atmospheric control system. Produce can be pre-packaged if desirable: at Special Fruit all packaging needs and wishes are open to discussion. Before delivery to customers, a further stage of quality control is part of the process.
Physical checks are performed during final packaging, and sub-standard produce is removed. A similar check is performed during order picking to ensure that all orders entering the climate-controlled vehicle fleet at our disposal are in perfect condition.
The essence of quality: meeting standards. Or exceeding them
Fruit that does not meet the mark are removed from our chain in a responsible way, regardless of the specific process and process stage involved. However, we always determine who has delivered them and when. This allows our intelligent Navision system to keep track of our suppliers' performance. Any undesirable development is immediately identified and can be addressed accordingly.
In the world of perishables, many national governments, European authorities and other legislators/regulators enforce standards of hygiene, storage and quality. Perhaps the most well-known requirements are those of HACCP, BRC and IFS.
However, for Special Fruit the most important requirements are even more strict. We ensure that our own quality requirements are always more stringent than those of such external authorities. For us, adherence to laws and external standards is just a starting point rather than a finish line.