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  • Keith Phillips

We thought that NOW would be the perfect time to undertake a European Research Tour.

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

Whilst Australia and New Zealand are in lockdown, and the rest of the world bounces between opening-up and closing down, our QLBS CEO, Keith Phillips, has been lucky to be able to carefully navigate Europe.


Keith has been studying food sustainability, and participated in a workshop on a data driven approach to compliance. His research took him to see our customers, and to meet new compliance adventurers across over seven countries, including Holland, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Albania and Germany.


Keith visited producers, certification bodies, and scheme holders.

The purpose?

To get a first-hand view of what compliance will look like in our post-pandemic world; collecting views from all angles of the compliance system.



A highlight of Keith’s tour, was a day visit to APOT, the Association of Trentino Fruit and Vegetable Producers; one of the largest apple co-operatives in the Europe.

Their co-operatives have 6,294 fruit growers, and their 8,442 hectares produce 500,000 tons of apples per year, as well as cherries, berries, strawberries, kiwis, plums and potatoes.

“I was fortunate enough to spend two hours with Alessandro Delpaiz, a Director of APOT, and a past director of GLOBALG.A.P., who is also a past President of the World Apple and Pears Association (WAPA), and an advisor to the EU.

A fantastic opportunity to discuss the industry and the future of auditing.

I then spent time with his IT and Quality team discussing their challenges.


Some key trends come up during our discussions:

  • The world is getting more, and more complex, as more standards, transparency, and accountability is being demanded. Examples that we discussed are the new EU Organics requirements, and the growing sustainability demands. The producers are having a problem keeping up, and the costs of compliance are going up.

  • The current and most common audit data capturing systems are collapsing. Spreadsheets have been hard to manage for years, and version management is becoming impossible. It’s hard to control access to parts of the data, and the spreadsheet complexity limits transparency and reporting functions. They are also very labour intensive and increasingly costly to run.

  • Remote, self-help and hybrid auditing systems are here to stay. It’s now clear that these are delivering verifiable audits at lower costs, and lower carbon footprints. They were not just used as part of the lockdown; they will be used in the future too.

  • A data driven approach will become the norm. More and more compliance will be verified through data produced in real time, from embedded devices.”


Workshop on a ‘Data Driven Approach to Compliance’.

Marco Roffia, the Chair of the GlobalG.A.P. Certification Body Committee and a leading auditor of good agricultural practice, has been working with industry thought leaders on a ‘data driven approach’ to food compliance and quality. He was very keen to get our views, and to understand what we have learned from our experiences.



Getting advice from a Professor of IT and specialist in Data Interoperability at Bologna University. Here we are using the produce itself to stimulate creative thinking.



We conducted a series of discussions with leading experts and developed a map of the compliance data system, examining the demand forces that would drive the generation, and distribution of data, and its conversion to knowledge.

We were lucky enough to use the extraordinary environment of Bologna and Northern Italy to explore the issues.



Here we are in The Dolomites developing a roadmap of a data driven compliance eco system. With Marco Roffia and myself is the Head of IT for Italy’s top Certification System.



“We all agreed that auditing compliance and quality is going through a significant digital transformation. A growing feature of audit service delivery will be the insights and guidance that digital auditing systems will be able to provide, and verification of compliance will increasingly rely on real-time data feeds”.



If you want to know more about how you can get involved, contact

keith.phillips@qlbs.com.