BRCGS service fees to increase from 1st August 2021

BRCGS have announced their annual service fee increase. From 1st August the fee will increase from £575 to £625.

BRCGS service fee increase 2021

What do your think?

Following your feedback on the service fee increase last year, we did a big piece of work to look at what alternatives certificates there are out there.

From your feedback, IFS and FSSC22000 came out top, as the certificates that you would consider.

We’ve created a little survey, to establish what you think now – please do get involved and have your say.

Why the increase?

We contacted BRCGS to find out why the service fee is going up and here’s what Jon Murthy, Head of Global Marketing at BRCGS said.

“BRCGS provides the best value and quality of any GFSI scheme. As brands and major specifiers continue to strengthen their supply chains and build greater resilience into their businesses, the portfolio of tools and technical content available in the service package enable suppliers to continuously improve and position themselves as a best in class supplier. We continue to add services to this package to help suppliers respond to new requirements and future safety challenges. The significant investment in our compliance programme ensures the integrity and consistency of the BRCGS certification scheme throughout the world. It is a critical cornerstone of our offering, a unique selling point that differentiates us from other schemes and delivers results that brands can trust and consumer protection is maintained.

The impact of Covid-19 has had a significant impact on suppliers, and some markets have been affected much more than others. In the vast majority of cases, this has led to a rephasing of audit schedules, and suppliers have not had to pay more on extension fees. We have seen very few certificate extensions in Asia Pacific, the Americas, and none at all in China. However, in countries such as the UK where there have been site access restrictions and auditor availability issues, the need for remote audit to maintain continued compliance may result in additional cost in some circumstances.

In general, pricing has been held at the 2020/2021 rate. There is a small price increase for our all-inclusive service package fee to reflect the significant investment that we have made to further enhance our value proposition in compliance and quality assurance to ensure that brand and consumer protection is maintained across the 130 economies in which we operate. These changes have been very much welcomed by the global brand owners that we work with across Asia Pacific, North and South America, South Asia, and Europe. These differences are recognised by brands and a growing number of national regulators to other GFSI schemes.”

Let’s break that down…

Having digested the above statement, we then went back to Jon about some of the key points, here’s our questions and his responses to them.

Jon said “It gives a supplier the tools that they can use throughout the year and is worth considerably more than the annual charge.”

We asked: What are the ‘tools’ that you refer to?

“The current BRCGS service package currently includes:

  • BRCGS Corporate brand licence for B2B promotion
  • Ethical Trading and Responsible Sourcing Risk Assessment and Guidance
  • Unlimited BRCGS Professional enrolments
  • Two BRCGS Participate licences (access all BRCGS technical content)
  • Licence to trade with customers
  • Access to technical and support teams
  • Technical benchmarking reports now available on Participate
  • Food Safety Culture Excellence Lite

See BRCGS Service Package FAQs for more details.”

Jon said: “As well as including the upload fee, technical support, and a licence to trade with certain customers, we have increased the products and services contained in the package to deliver additional value and technical content.”

We asked: The ‘upload fee’ that you refer to – is this the fee for uploading the audit/certificate to BRCGS Directory? And if so, isn’t this something that the CB does – so I’m wondering why it appears on the service fee?

“The upload fee is included in the SP and the Directory is the shop window where brands look for new suppliers. CBs upload the audits, however BRCGS own, manage and host the Directory. We employ a team to support this database and to ensure that data is displayed accurately, available 24/7 and on multi browser/ device. We are currently launching a new generation directory which will improve the upload process, but more importantly the experience users can search the database. “

Jon said: “As well as including the upload fee, technical support, and a licence to trade with certain customers, we have increased the products and services contained in the package to deliver additional value and technical content.”

We asked: I’m not sure the sites are aware of the technical support that’s available to them. Can you please provide details of what this is and how they can utilise it please?

“Our technical managers are accessible to respond to supplier enquiries and support. As well as providing regular information to our Covid Hub, they follow up on direct enquiries through the BRCGS Technical Helpline which is open to all sites at any time during the audit cycle. Sites can access telephone or by completing the form on our website, as well as ‘enquiries@’ by email, which is not available with other GFSI schemes.”

Jon said: “As well as including the upload fee, technical support, and a licence to trade with certain customers, we have increased the products and services contained in the package to deliver additional value and technical content.”

We asked: Is the licence to trade a theoretical aspect? It’s not actually part of the annual charge?

“The ability to trade is implicit if an existing or new customer wants their supplier to take operate to a BRCGS standard. We strive to provide industry support for our customers and work with brands to ensure that our certification programmes support their quality and safety needs. According to Deloitte, 70% of the top 10 global retailers accept or specify BRCGS, 50% of the top 25 global manufacturers accept or specify BRCGS, and 60% of the top 10 global quick service restaurants accept or specify BRCGS. We also work with many brand owners and specifiers to create a private audit regime with additional requirements above and beyond what is set down in our core Standards. This therefore provides market access and a license to trade.”

Jon said: “For example, the package has been extended to include insight reports that suppliers can use to benchmark their performance and to provide additional evidence of their assurance credentials to customers.”

We asked: How do sites access these insight reports and can you provide me with an example so I can see them please? My first reaction to this, would be that I’m not sure that this adds any value to the sites, as most customers just go on the grade. Are you aware of any customers that use these reports?

“The insight reports are available on Participate and available exclusively to sites. They are available in English, Mandarin, Spanish and Italian and are available across all standards and all product categories. The reports provide supply chain intelligence through a series of dashboards and reports and contain benchmarking information. They allow a site to see how they compare to peers and other similar sites by sector / geography, by comparing grade, year on year audit performance, and number, type and severity of non-conformities. Sites can share the data with customers to demonstrate their performance, and it can identify areas for improvement. Since they were launched in the latter part of 2020, they have been accessed regularly. We have just started a monthly communication now to alert sites as we publish on average 8-9 new technical documents on Participate each month – we notify sites of the reports in this email.”

Jon said: “Suppliers can also access an Ethical Trading and Responsible Sourcing Risk Assessment“

We asked: Can you please direct me to where this is?

“The Risk Assessment provides a framework to assist sites to measure their performance against the 6 fundamentals of ethical trade and responsible sourcing, and provides a “health check” on a site’s ethical trade and responsible sourcing performance. We charge £125 for the module, however sites get access as part of the package. It can be found here Ethical Trade and Responsible Sourcing Risk Assessment.”

Jon said: “Suppliers can also … free access to a Food Safety Culture starter module to drive behavioural improvements that can impact on food safety.”

We asked: Can you please direct me to where this is?

“We are in the final stages of development and the module will be available by Q1 2021.”

Jon said: “Recent upgrades, such as our confidential reporting system and the new generation directory (launching Feb’21)”

We asked: The upgrade to the directory was on the price increase letter Jan 2018, 2019 and 2020. Is this the same upgrade that has been delayed? From the sites perspective, the ‘shop window’ as it is now, does the job just fine. You can see the company, the site address, the grade and the scope. What more do we need? What else will this upgrade provide?

“The current Directory is built on technology that has reached the end of its life cycle. The new version will go live on 15th February and use the latest API, data management and search technology. This will improve both the data handling and display of results. This will improve the brand and specifier experience. It also provides a solid platform to deliver additional functionality, and real time data analysis and reporting that will provide greater supply chain transparency and ultimately brand and consumer confidence.”

Jon said: “BRCGS provides the best value and quality of any GFSI scheme.”

We asked: Can you please provide any data to validate this claim?

“We have some evidence from regulatory bodies that demonstrates that the BRCGS standard significantly outperforms non-certified sites in inspection audits and performs favourably against other GFSI schemes. We have feedback through our International Advisory Boards, made up of c.70 leading brands from Europe, N America and APAC that our compliance programme provide consistent and reliable results. We are due to launch an economic study shortly, and will share the results with you later this year.”

Jon said: “We continue to add services to this package to help suppliers respond to new requirements and future safety challenges.”

We asked: Are these different tools, or the same tools mentioned before?

“In the last year, we have added the insight reports and increased the number of Professional enrolments from 2 to unlimited. FSCE will be launched soon, and we have plans for further tools. We will share details when ready.”

Jon said: “In general, pricing has been held at the 2020/2021 rate.”

We asked: What do you mean by in general? Looking at the price increases, they’ve been applied to most things? Which ones have held?

“The following products have not increased:

Gluten Free Certification
Plant Based Certification
Ethical Trade & Responsible Sourcing – Risk Assessment and Guidance
Food Safety Culture Excellence
Additional Food Safety Modules – Food Safety Modernization Act, Preventative Controls for Human Food, Meat Supply Chain Assurance, AOECS Gluten Free, Global GAP Chain of Custody, Asda AA”

Thoughts?

It would be great to hear what you think about the price increase and what you think about the reasons for it. Which parts of the additional features that Jon has mentioned are interested in most and do you feel that they are providing value for money?

Thinking about switching?

Following your feedback on the service fee increase last year, we did a big piece of work to look at what alternatives certificates there are out there.

From your feedback, IFS and FSSC22000 came out top, as the certificates that you would consider.

We’ve created a little survey, to establish what you think now – please do get involved and have your say.

Have your say…

7 thoughts on “BRC service fee increase 2021

  1. The BRCGS audit duration is calculated by site size, staff numbers and HACCP studies with larger operations, in theory at least albeit not in practice, taking longer to complete. Why could the BRCGS not do something similar with their service charge so that smaller companies are not affected disproportionally to larger companies?

  2. Its all pretty much waffle and hyperbole.
    Customers just look at the grading, maybe the CAR also but not always.
    Sites don’t compare themselves to peers?
    The other “tools” that have been added give little value, BRCGS certification is a requirement of supply in most cases, I dont know any companies who think, “hey, I’ll pay for an additional audit I dont need just for the prestige”
    If we went to our customers with an arbitury price increase using similar reasoning I’m pretty sure of the response from the buyer.

    For example; we operate a small seasonal single product packhouse in South Africa which required BRC in order to supply a limited qty into the UK, The CB had increased the man hours from 2 to 2.5 days and the inclusive quote was close to £5K. (SGS) (Small packhouse on the farm and 3 coldstores, our own fruit, no CCPs on HACCP)
    We decided to forgo BRC as it wasnt cost effective. A well known South African retailer undertook thier own quite arduous but effective 1 day audit instead, for free. Thier “sister” company in the UK, accepted this audit and we ended up sending more product to the UK than before.

    While I understand brand protection and food safety are a pre requisite of supply, the cost of achieving this assurance is becoming an ever increasing financial and manpower burden in doing business

    1. Well done Philp on reviewing your situation and undertaking a meaningful audit for your business rather than the lip service that so often happens with BRC audits.

  3. There has been a substantial increase in fees in a relatively short period of time, because extra services are offered.

    Can you get an indication as to what percentage of BRC customers want these extra services (e.g. based on a short questionnaire)?

    If this is not an overwhelming majority (my guess is it might be a minority), perhaps we can request BRC to stop this development and revert back to the basic service package (since their customers don’t want it). Alternatively, BRC may consider to offer options: those who appreciate the extra services can opt for them and pay a higher fee, those who are happy with a basic package can opt for this and pay a lower fee.

  4. This is my opinion
    BRC for the horticultural grower who grows and packs his own produce, no processing, does not fit.

    We have to carry out tasks irrelevant to the product in order to gain certification.

    So we are employing people to carry out these tasks which have no relevance or impact on the product.

    Is this right? in this modern world is this really necessary?

    Most Horticultural products can be grown on an allotment and eaten almost immediately without 100 pieces of paper to comply

    Hope someone gets this

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