To this end, specialised AB staff have prepared the AB Agrassurance Guide for all enterprises involved in production, standardisation, packing and distribution of fruit, vegetables and other crop products. This guide includes all Greek and European legal and regulatory provisions currently in force regarding sound practices during production, sorting, packaging, traceability, labeling and distribution of products.
The AB Agrassurance management system is a formal method of selecting and monitoring suppliers of 'AB VASILOPOULOS' fresh fruit, vegetables and other agricultural products.
It includes the policies, requirements, criteria and specifications that must be met to establish a comprehensive and transparent framework of cooperation between AB and its suppliers.
The AB Agrassurance system consists of three pillars, as outlined below.
This pillar includes monitoring quality and organoleptic characteristics of products upon delivery to ensure that they belong in the "extra" and "I" category, along with an inspection of packaging and compliant labelling. During this phase, quality and organoleptic inspections are carried out when products are received at the company's central warehouses. If a product is found not to meet AB's specifications, it is not accepted and is returned to the supplier.
Note that each one of AB's suppliers is evaluated on the basis of the record of returns on a monthly and annual basis. Modern methods of supply chain organisation are applied during this phase, while the transport of goods from AB's state-of-the-art central facilities ensures the prompt supply of AB stores soon after harvest.
This pillar includes laboratory tests conducted on received goods to detect traces of plant protection products and nitrates, microbiological load, post-harvest chemical application and heavy metals. Testing is conducted on a daily basis on samples taken upon receipt of products and sent to cooperating accredited laboratories. If findings fall outside of AB's specifications, then the product is rejected and cooperation with the particular supplier is temporarily or permanently suspended. If the findings are within statutory levels, but outside AB's stricter specifications, the supplier is sent a letter asking for an explanation of the findings and requesting the submission of evidence of improved practices.
This pillar includes the monitoring and inspection of suppliers at their own handling and product cultivation facilities.
Inspections are conducted by special associate inspectors as authorised by AB. The business and production operations of each supplier are inspected, along with primary production. These inspections aim at ascertaining the degree of compliance of business and production activities with statutory requirements and AB specifications. At the same time, the adequacy of record-keeping and the ability to fully document the actual course of production of each product are also investigated.
Inspections take place at least once a year through onsite visits to the suppliers' premises. Inspectors act with impartiality and integrity and are familiar with each supplier's background, having reference to previous inspections and laboratory analyses. Following inspection, a report is prepared and sent on to the team responsible for managing the AB Agrassurance policy. A letter is also sent to the supplier with recommendations for improvements which the supplier is required to implement within a specified timeline.The combined actions of the three pillars outlined above and stipulated by the AB Agrassurance system ensure:
a. Improved cooperation with suppliers, their training in the application of sound practices and the adaptation of their activities to modern market standards.
b. The implementation of AB's policy goal of providing nutritious, healthy, affordable, safe and sustainable products and ensuring an improved quality of life for its customers, associates and the communities in which it operates.