Most people with no educational background in food or quality management might not know the IFS and IFS Standards. Therefore we would like to use this chance to explain why the IFS was developed and why uniform standards are so important for all parties along the supply chain.
IFS is the short form for: International Featured Standards owned by the IFS Management GmbH. The idea of uniform standards for the food industry arose in 2002 based on the request of retailers that were all facing similar challenges: they bear the legal responsibility for their trade brands and have to ensure that the products comply with both legal requirements and their own specifications.
But how to make sure that all their products are legally conform and produced as they should be?
Before 2003 all retailers audited their suppliers by their own or commissioned certification bodies to do the audits against their individual checklist. This generated high costs and required extensive amounts of time for planning and executing. However, also for the manufacturing industry the number of various audits with partially similar audit contents was a high burden. Aiming at lowering the burden of all participants, the Handelsverband Deutschland (HDE) and several retailers developed the first uniform checklist, the IFS Food Standard in 2003, which was revised in co-operation with the French trade association (FCD) in 2004.
The IFS Network experienced continuous growth in the last 15 years. Meanwhile the IFS Standards are developed together with the International Technical Committee and working groups comprising retailers, industry and certification bodies in DACH-countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), France, Italy, Spain, the US, China and Chile. IFS has become the umbrella brand for eight Standards and Programs covering the post farming part of the supply chain.
From the beginning on a clear structured database was provided for all IFS Users. Since then IFS extended the services for suppliers by several digital tools to make working with IFS as comfortable as possible. Therefore we are proud to say that we are still working on more solutions to offer IFS Users always the best possible tools and support to make the supply chain safer.