Assured UK Malt
Case Study - Carlsberg
Added brand security for Carlsberg
International brewer Carlsberg is reaping the benefits in brand protection from increased malt standards set by the Assured UK Malt (AUKM) scheme. These standards lead the way in world malting and provide regulations on not just food safety, but also product legality, good operational practice and product quality. The quality and traceability of all the brewer's raw materials is of foremost importance to the protection of the Carlsberg brand and its practices, a philosophy which dates back to the founding of the company in the 19 th century.
At Carlsberg, as with any international brewer, major investment has been made in building brand equity, and reliability of ingredients is key to ensuring that brands remain strong and can be trusted by consumers.
Laurence May, Systems Manager at Carlsberg UK (pictured above) states: "AUKM raises the standards for maltsters worldwide. Carlsberg recognises the importance of quality and traceability along the supply chain. The last thing we want is for someone to tell us that there is a problem with our beer as a result of the malt used. This could have a catastrophic effect on our brand worldwide.
"AUKM along with our own auditing process helps eliminate any issue of contamination in our beer, providing us with ultimate brand protection. Looking forward, it would be fantastic to see a similar assured malt standard put in place abroad to benefit the rest of Carlsberg."
Brit Bertram, Quality Manager at Carlsberg's headquarters in Copenhagen comments: "The AUKM scheme is in line with the strict requirements we set out for our suppliers, bringing the UK to the forefront of food safety. This, therefore, gives us the confidence that the UK malt supplier has a philosophy to be proactive in its approach to producing high quality malt."
Tight supplier controls are vital to help protect the Carlsberg brand and ensure it can continue to be trusted by its customers. This is especially important as Carlsberg sources its malt from over 60 maltsters worldwide, producing in excess of 100 million hectolitres of beer each year to over 150 countries. The brewery has to be sure that all its ingredients and operations remain consistent.
Laurence says: "Food scares such as Sudan1 have highlighted the importance of quality and traceability along the supply chain. Ignoring the potential risks can lead to a collapse in brand confidence, expensive product recalls and widespread panic amongst consumers. AUKM is an excellent scheme that has set the standard for UK malting, ensuring full traceability along the supply chain. This in turn has made my job a lot easier, as I know that all my malt suppliers are keeping to strict quality standards even before they are subjected to our internal regulations."
All of Carlsberg's UK maltsters operate under the AUKM scheme. The scheme provides the brewer with malt that is fully traceable and guaranteed to have been subjected to independently audited standards. It's the first scheme of its kind in the world to become accredited for malt and plugs the gap between existing UK farming and manufacturing assurance schemes. This gives Carlsberg the assurance it needs to meet its high standards for quality in the UK .
These standards need to be met throughout Carlsberg's 100 subsidiaries and associated companies including Carlsberg UK, to ensure a unified brand identity and a consistent brewing process at each of its worldwide operations.
The UK subsidiary is the fourth largest brewer in the UK and operates through two breweries based in Northampton and Leeds . Its lager and ales are destined primarily for the UK beer market, and Carlsberg UK is capable of producing more than 1 billion pints of beer between the two sites each year.
As Laurence adds: "Carlsberg's objectives today are still very much in line with those outlined by its founders. At our headquarters, we have adopted a vision to lead the industry in profitability and growth through a culture of quality, innovation and continuous improvement. The objective of quality is outlined all the way through our processes. These are carried out internally, for example ISO 9001 international quality standard, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and also externally, through our expectations of our suppliers.
"Although all new and existing maltsters are subjected to a thorough auditing process by Carlsberg, the introduction of AUKM has made this process a lot more straightforward for the brewery," says Laurence, "Most maltsters have been working to strict quality guidelines for some time. However, AUKM has tightened up this process and provided specific guidelines for maltsters to follow. If everyone was to follow these procedures, it would potentially reduce Carlsberg's need for additional paperwork and time spent setting supplier guidelines."
However with no worldwide regulation in place, Carlsberg, as an international organisation has to ensure that its auditing process is consistent amongst its worldwide subsidiaries. This is to ensure that no matter where in the world the malt is sourced from, it will meet Carlsberg's guidelines for quality. Carlsberg achieves this through its Group Supply Chain Organisation, an internal facility set up in Copenhagen to monitor and control its suppliers worldwide in terms of sustainability and conditions to supply.
The Group Supply Chain Organisation in turn runs Carlsberg's own supplier auditing process called ĪCarls Audit'. This is headed up by Brit Bertram in Copenhagen , along with a panel of auditors. It analyses the specifications and terms and conditions in which the malt is supplied to see if it matches the quality standards set by Carlsberg. An example of these specifications is the analysis of the levels of beta-glucan present in the cell wall of barley. If these levels are too high, they could cause filtration problems for Carlsberg.
Under the Carls Audit process the supplier has to meet a set of criteria. These include:
Sufficient control of the process
Sufficient use of hygiene standards in production
Satisfactory implementation of QA and HACCP systems
Observing Carlsberg's guidelines for environmental and social responsibility management
These criteria also have to be met by maltsters supplying malt to Carlsberg under the AUKM scheme. Once the maltster passes the auditing process, they will be continually assessed by their local brewer and re-audited regularly. This is to ensure they continue to meet Carlsberg's standards in the quality of supply as well as their own.
"We use in excess of 90,000 tonnes of malt annually in the UK " says Laurence, "Therefore, it is vital that I am able to have the confidence in the maltsters to provide malt that meets our standards. Carlsberg relies on its suppliers to overcome any issues that may have been highlighted in pre-delivery samples that the maltster supplies the brewer. AUKM gives me the assurance that all problems are handled in the appropriate way by UK maltsters. This adds value to Carlsberg, its brand and consumers alike."
Further benefits that Laurence has seen as a result of AUKM include:
The AUKM standard helps support the level of quality that the Carlsberg brand represents
Traceability from the grower through to Carlsberg
Eliminating the risk of contamination
The maltster can initially respond much faster to any issue that has arisen in the supply chain
A shared understanding of the processes involved in quality assurance
Laurence concludes: "Quality and traceability along the supply chain is vital in ensuring that Carlsberg produces its beer under a brand that consumers can both enjoy and trust. AUKM sets the standard for malting worldwide and along with our own auditing process, the scheme helps eliminate any issue of contamination in our beer, proving a recipe for success for Carlsberg."