Companies that are growing and expanding into new markets will face this question at some point in time. Most start-up food businesses do not even consider the implementation of HACCP in the initial stages of their operations. They are generally focused on marketing their business to potential customers, increasing their revenue and managing their cash flow to ensure sustainability. Eventually, as market share increases, particularly as the business offerings and products reach international markets, the food company will have to deal with the legal requirements of their new markets, which often includes HACCP implementation.
But what exactly is HACCP? HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point and is an internationally-recognized food safety management system for assuring food safety in the production of food items, whether the food is packaged as is done by food manufacturers or ready-to-eat as is normally the case for food service establishments, such as restaurants. HACCP requires that a food company examines its production process for potentially harmful/hazardous steps and implement preventative or control measures to reduce or eliminate the risk of harm to the consumer.
At this time, the implementation of HACCP by food companies is not a legal requirement in Trinidad and Tobago. As a result, many local food processing and food service facilities may feel that there is no justifiable need to implement such a system since they are not legally bound to do so. However, all companies operating in Trinidad and Tobago have a social responsibility to ensure that their products and activities do not harm the consumer. Based on this, it can be suggested that the implementation of HACCP or any similar food safety management system by local food establishments is simply such companies fulfilling their social obligations even if a legal one has not been imposed by the State.
Nevertheless, when discussing HACCP, the cost of implementation, as it relates to time, staff and financial resources, cannot be ignored and is likely to be one of the main reasons food establishments are reluctant to pursue HACCP unless required by local or international laws. However, food business owners should be reminded that implementing HACCP in your food facility can bring many benefits that can readily translate into increased revenue. These benefits include:
Better control of products and raw materials which translates to less wastage and money saved. Imagine how much money is wasted when food products are poorly manufactured or prepared and have to be disposed of as a result of poor quality and safety. Additionally, raw materials that are not food safe cannot be transformed into foods that are safe and of a high standard.
- Consider for example, a restaurant cooking a chicken that was received from the supplier at room temperature rather than cold or frozen. Meats stored at room temperature will begin to spoil from high bacterial growth and from the development of off-flavors and off-textures. Consequently, even when cooked, the chicken can still contain harmful bacteria, and the taste and texture may not be to the liking of the customers. The result is that the restaurant, will have to dispose of the chicken as waste. A HACCP program would require that the restaurant only uses chicken that was received cold or frozen and thus wastage is avoided and food safety assured.
- HACCP in a food business fosters customer confidence which means that customers will buy more of your food since they trust your food’s safety and quality. It is not difficult to realize that this also means an increase in sales for the company. The company can increase the population’s awareness of the assured safety of its products by highlighting of its HACCP system in its marketing plan and branding its products and facility with its HACCP certification.
- HACCP implementation allows food manufacturers and processors, to export to international markets that have the HACCP requirement
In recent years, the local food and beverage sector has had to deal with the challenges of changing food safety requirements to international market standards, such as the USA and Canada. Unfortunately, too many of our local food manufacturers were unprepared for the requirement of working food safety management systems and are facing the loss of profitable markets or finding themselves in a mad scramble to implement HACCP or similar food safety management systems. In both scenarios, companies no longer have the option to spread the cost of HACCP implementation over the medium to long-term, but instead find themselves having to spend significant sums in the short-term or lose valuable revenue.
Additionally, food manufacturers who supply international food service franchises, such as KFC, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King and so on, are required by these franchises to have HACCP systems implemented in their food facilities. Without an established and effective HACCP system, companies that wish to supply food items to Trinidad and Tobago’s burgeoning numbers of international fast food and restaurant franchises will find themselves classified as unsuitable and thus the potential for increased revenue will not be theirs.
It is hoped that based on the information provided about HACCP and its benefits, local food businesses will realize that whether or not they implement HACCP in their companies, there is still a cost. The question therefore is ‘which price is your company willing to pay?
The euphoria and excitement associated with launching and growing a small business venture are often whittled away by manifold challenges including partnership pitfalls, financial resources, poor problem definition and market misalignment. Other contributory factors include timing, passion without purpose (or vice versa), (unyielding) regulatory context and even a founder’s characterization, risk appetite or personal proclivities.
Undoubtedly, the freedom that entrepreneurship offers is tethered by the realities of responsibility and accountability to team, employees, partners, financers, customers or clients. The allure of a flexible schedule which triggered the switch from a traditional career path swiftly begins to morph to resemble longer days and working weekends. These growing pains of the first year along with its triumphs and investment deals may still not generate adequate cash flow to sustain the business over the next year. After all, statistics remind us that that more than half of all startups fail within 2 to 5 years.
CARIRI’s Business HATCHERY through a rigorous screening and selection process offers entrepreneurs a 3 month Business Hatchery Programme to advance to marketability and collaborate with other entrepreneur peers, apply business fundamentals through a structured curriculum, access mentorship and coaching support and strengthen business pitch techniques.
The Programme’s curriculum takes entrepreneurs through five key areas: Base Case Analysis and Value Proposition, Marketing, Accounting and Finance, Business Model and Business Pitch Development. However, the value of the Programmelies in the questions rather than predominantly in the advice, that embolden entrepreneurs to broaden their gaze, tap into overlooked opportunities and develop self-reliance at arriving at critical decisions. Whilst the programme serves entrepreneurs from a wide range of industries and mixed career backgrounds, it holds entrepreneurs to deliverables through a combination of disciplined, facilitative and hands-on approaches that are customized to their businesses.
As entrepreneurship grows in appeal, a fundamental yet sometimes understated point is: all businesses and/or products must solve a customer’s problem or address a customer’s pain points. In strategic planning, an erroneous problem definition will generate objectives, options and conclusions that lead to divergent implementation schedules and execution plans far removed from the original problem to be resolved. Similarly, CARIRI’s Business HATCHERY Programmehelps entrepreneurs to evaluate who would benefit from what they do and why it would matter. Pivoting and refining an initial business proposition are therefore integral to the Business Hatchery process. After all, a hypothesis untested by robust market research yields an invalidated problem definition and potentially a thin value proposition.
Having concluded its fourth Business Hatchery cycle in November 2015, entrepreneurs’ attestations emphasized that CARIRI’s Business HatcheryProgramme reduced their learning curves and provided holistic assistance to think and work through processes in bringing a product to market. Feedback also indicated most entrepreneurs felt ready to implement their product / service in the Trinidad and Tobago market within six months, having fully fashioned and (even tested) their final product or service. A significant output of the Business Hatchery Programme is the impact on the time frame to bring a product to market. Other ancillary benefits include the network of entrepreneurs, business tools and systematic methodology which are important drivers to growth.
The mixed team of consultants and staff in CARIRI’s Business Hatchery Programme provide pivotal support in steering entrepreneurs’ growth and remain a key differentiating factor from similar business incubator programmes. As a participant characterized, “CARIRI’s Business HATCHERY Programme assisted in the determination of a feasible and logical concept of the business model…The team also seemed family oriented, making us comfortable and productive.”
We invite online applications for our upcoming Business Hatchery cycles in January 2016 and encourage all budding and existing entrepreneurs to get gritty about their growth.