What is quality

There are many definitions for quality. Some of these include

‘Quality is producing a product that meets our customers’ needs and at a price which earns a profit for the processor.’

‘Quality in product means that it is consistent, reliable and meets the customer’s needs and expectations.’

‘Quality is fitness for the customer’s purpose.’

We can say we have produced a quality product when it:

  • is fit for the customer’s purpose
  • provides value for money
  • is reliable and dependable
  • meets customer expectation
  • conforms to specification
  • is produced at a cost that earns the company a profit.

All these definitions show us that quality is defined by customer needs and company specifications.  A quality product is not necessarily the most expensive product of that type available. Think about buying a car. Depending on what you want either a Holden or a Rolls Royce could be a quality product.

In our industry quality is dependent on customer requirements. Which is the best meat – yearling or old bull?

It depends on the customer’s requirements. For a restaurant steak, yearling is a quality product because it is tender. However, if you are making smallgoods, bull is the quality product because it is lean and has good water holding properties.

An important quality aspect of all meat products is food safety. All our customers expect that a meat product produced for humans will not make them sick or give them a disease. All meatworks must process meat in accordance with the AS 4696:2007 Australian Standard for the hygienic production and transportation of meat and meat products for human consumption. If meat processors do not follow this standard they are not producing a quality product.

A quality meat product is one that is produced in a safe manner and is free of harmful contamination.

What are our customers?

The external customer

There are many types of external customers for meat processors:

  • the retailer – who sells our product to the general public, for example Coles or the independent retail butcher
  • the wholesaler – who sells on to the butcher shops
  • the restaurant trade – which cooks and serves meat products
  • the overseas importers – who expect meat processors to meet the requirements of their governments
  • the consumer – who buys our product for his or her own use
  • other companies – who may purchase products from our company and use them as raw materials in their own process, like smallgoods processors.

Keeping our external customers is very important. If the product we sell does not meet the needs of our external customers, they will start to buy product from another company.

Equally, if the customer service we provide does not meet the customer needs, they will find another company to buy from.

When you are an external customer, what sticks more in your mind:

  • good service or poor service?
  • good quality merchandise or faulty merchandise?

Unfortunately, it is human nature to remember and talk about those purchases that have disappointed us or let us down. We don’t often talk about products or customer service that has met our needs.
This is why it is so important that the meat products we process must be right the first time. We cannot afford to sell meat products that are not what our external customers want.

The internal customers

The internal customer is inside the company you work for. This is the person you pass your completed part of the work to. For example:

  • if you work on the slaughter floor your internal customer may be the person working next to you or the boning room attached to the works
  • if you are a slicer your internal customer is the packer.

The person you pass your work on to expects that you have done your job properly. Their ability to do quality work depends on you doing your job properly.

You are the customer of the person at the workstation or process before yours. You cannot do quality work unless the work they pass on to you has been done properly.

Everyone working at your company is both a customer and a supplier. This means workers, including the management, are responsible for quality.

It is like a chain reaction. If you make sure that you always supply a quality product to the next operator in the process, then it is easier for the next process or work area to continue on with that quality.

Both our external and internal customers demand a quality product.