How Can QA Leaders Convince CEOs to Invest in Food Safety?

A few months ago, a Director of Quality Assurance explained to me that she had many exciting initiatives to improve food safety, but the CEO kept shooting down any ideas that cost money. Advocating for Food Safety & Quality can often feel like being the “bad guy” in the room. 

The purpose of this article is to equip FSQA leaders to convince CEOs to invest in food safety, so they can continue to keep food safe for billions of people worldwide.

The most important part of working with CEOs is understanding their priorities. A strong leader conveys these goals clearly and consistently, but the best way to understand your CEO’s priorities is to ask them directly and make sure your initiatives align with those.

However, most CEOs at food companies have the same three priorities: 

1) Increase Sales

2) Cost Reduction

3) Mitigate Risk (in that order!)

After working with dozens of CEOs, here are some effective ways to “sell” Food Safety while answering the questions your CEO will ask.

1) How Does Investing in Food Safety Leads to Increased Sales?

Enhancing food safety and quality can directly impact sales in multiple ways. First and foremost, a robust food safety reputation builds trust with customers, leading to increased brand loyalty and positive word-of-mouth recommendations. Additionally, fewer food safety incidents and recalls can safeguard the company's reputation, preventing potential sales declines due to negative publicity.

Furthermore, investing in quality can lead to the development of premium products that attract higher margins and discerning customers. A focus on quality can become a unique selling proposition that sets your company apart from competitors, ultimately driving sales growth.

An ongoing investment in food safety and quality fortifies your brand to drive sales long-term.

2) How Does Investing in Food Safety Leads to Cost Reduction?

While it may seem counterintuitive, investing in food safety and quality can actually lead to cost savings in the short term and long-term. Preventing foodborne illnesses and product recalls can avoid substantial financial losses associated with liabilities, lawsuits, and damage to brand reputation. By proactively addressing potential risks through robust quality assurance practices, you can mitigate the financial impact of adverse events.

In addition, optimizing your processes and implementing efficient quality control measures can streamline operations, reducing waste and lowering production costs. It's essential to showcase how food safety initiatives contribute to long-term cost-reduction strategies and to also explicitly quantifying these savings with hard numbers. For example, a QA director at a public company told me that he estimated going digital with their QA/Operations paperwork would save them 2 million dollars annually. When you talk about those kind of savings, you can justify smaller expenses!

3) How Does Investing in Food Safety Mitigate Risk?

Food safety is inherently linked to risk mitigation. CEOs are well aware of the potential consequences of safety breaches and non-compliance. By investing in comprehensive food safety protocols, you can demonstrate your commitment to risk management and protecting the company's interests.

Furthermore, government regulations and consumer demands for safer food products are increasing, making it even more crucial for food companies to prioritize food safety. Being proactive in this regard can position your company as an industry leader and enhance its resilience to potential challenges.

To successfully persuade CEOs to incorporate food safety innovations into the budget, it is essential to understand their priorities and demonstrate the tangible benefits of investing in food safety, which align with their core goals of increasing sales, cost reduction, and mitigating risk. 

At Allera, we’re rooting for you as we all strive to make food safe for everyone!