Do you think of:

    1.  Product characteristics – taste, colour, size, presentation, price?
    2. Production process – inputs used/MRLs, soil condition, water properties, employee skills and competencies, post-harvest, packaging?
    3. Markets – buyer’s specifications, market access requirements, competitive advantage?
    4. Management – information (choices/decisions in planning & organizing work), communication (internal & external – sales & media, marketing story/branding), recruitment & skills development, monitoring & evaluating?
    5. All of the above?

Which answer would you choose?

From its earliest use, the word quality refers to “an inherent attribute”, a “degree of goodness or excellence”, “a distinguished and characteristic excellence”. Bearing these descriptions in mind, which answer would you choose now?

Perhaps you’ve decided to choose answer E now – coming to see that all of the aspects mentioned are connected. Or, to put it another way, “you can’t take the grape out of the wine”. Nothing stands alone – every choice or decision made has implications for the next choice or decision and affects one or more aspect…..and so on.

To illustrate: soil condition and water properties influence the choice of inputs, but buyer’s specifications and legislation on MRLs influence that same choice. And what you choose (conventional or organic) influences how you position your product (your marketing story/branding). What you choose also influences who you hire, what their skills level and competence is or needs to be. And everything taken together influences which market/buyer you can sell to and at what price. And the price you receive affects your continuity and profitability which in turn affects your plans and choices for the coming season.…. and so the interdependencies continue.

Quality then is not only something to be determined at “the end” – quality is the sum total of all interconnected, interrelated and interdependent activities, choices, decisions, processes and procedures that led up to “the end”!

Understanding the interrelationships in our choices is the basis of Responsible Business Practice.