CoPak Solutions received certification through the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standards program during the past year, and the Conover, NC, snack manufacturer came away with an A rating. However, the process was much more exhaustive than what the company initially imagined. “We thought it would take only a few months, but it took nearly a year to complete,” said Mike Wells, CoPak’s vice-president of operations. “It was a huge investment for us.”

One of CoPak’s customers informed the company that if it wanted to continue to produce chips for the customer’s warehouse club stores, then it would need to get BRC certification. Fortunately, the customer let CoPak know about this requirement a year and a half before the certification was needed.

The certification will be beneficial as the company looks to build customers. For instance, anytime a company makes a presentation to Wal-Mart, the question of third-party auditors always comes up, according to Mr. Wells. “If you tell Wal-Mart that you are audited by someone else, they say, ‘Fine, but we are going to have our auditors come in,’” he explained. “But if you have BRC, then it doesn’t have to send its own people anymore.”

BRC requires annual recertification, and as is required by the new Food Safety Modernization Act, companies must have a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan. “We had HACCP before, but once BRC got done with it, we had HACCP times two,” Mr. Wells said. “We really had to ratchet up our sanitation training, our GMPs and all of those good things.”

Despite its demands on CoPak, the certification process was worth the effort. “Our company today is a much better company all around because of going through the BRC certification,” Mr. Wells concluded.