BRCGS service fees to increase from 1st August 2020

The BRCGS charge a service fee for every audit that happens. This fee is charged to your certification body and they then pass this cost onto you, by adding it to your audit invoice.

The BRCGS service package fee covers BRCGS costs for managing and updating the Standards and managing the approval and monitoring of your certification body, among other things.

We’ve covered BRCGS services fees for the first time when BRCGS increased their service fee in 2019. The service fee increase for 2020 has now been announced, so we’ve updated this article to cover this.

BRC Service Fee Charges

1st Nov 2014
BRC service package fee rises from £150 to £180 (20% increase)
Participate introduced, subscription fee of £95 per year

No data for 2015 or 2016

1st Oct 2017
BRC service package fee increases from £215 to £300 due to market position and innovations in technology, such as Participate (40% increase)

1st August 2018
BRC service package fee increases to £450 (50% increase)
Subscription fee for Participate removed, as this is included in the new service fee, along with unlimited BRC Professional status’

1st September 2019
Service package fee increases to £500 (11% increase)

1st August 2020
Service package fee increases to £575 (15% increase)

Really?

I think we’re all in the wrong business. Do you know of any other business that can increase their prices every year like this?

And to apply a 15% increase in the current climate, as we are on the brink of the greatest recession the world has ever seen – is quite frankly inconceivable.

As always, we’d really like to know your thoughts on this. 

Nobody likes paying fees, but we all appreciate that they’re a necessary evil.  Do you think the fee you pay per audit is warranted? Please add your thoughts below.

Have your say…

51 thoughts on “BRC service fee increase 2020

  1. It’s all well and good BRC adding the Participate subscription fee to the service package fee if you can actually access it. I have tried 3 times to subscribe since it became a ‘free’ service and have yet to receive a response.

  2. I agree with the comment on the BRC professional status as they only accept courses from ‘approved’ training partners. (Read people who have paid a fee to BRCGS)

  3. Food manufactures are certainly not able to increase their product prices in this way! The whole 3rd party audit process (BRC included) has always been a cost to servicing customers yet pretty poor value in many ways. This latest price increase,during a time of immense pressure on food factories, is not helpful in the least and may well spur businesses to seek alternative ways of showing commitment to food safety standards. ISO standards come to mind, but there are other ways using technology now where data and behaviours can be scrutinized in meaningful ways. The retail consortium is out of touch in oh, so many ways.

  4. We are over a barrel really aren’t we? We all have to have accreditation for our businesses. I agree that the service packages available are pretty poor and generally quite unreliable, with the current economic scenario – I believe we are being very badly treated.

  5. This consistent upwards creep of prices is making the relevant standards less attractive to the SME’s that typically make up the customer base of independent consultants such as myself. The affect of this is that the different standards become less attractive to the customer and they take the decision to allow their certification to lapse and move to an alternative standard. My own personal opinion is that the BRCGS appear to have a monopoly on this area and they have carte blanche to increase costs as they see fit. In addition I also feel that over the years the path that the BRCGS have taken with the changes to the standards and the way they have been applied, almost seems as if they to want to squeeze out the SME’s. To rectify this there needs to be a viable alternative to the BRCGS within the UK.

    1. Definitely agree. We don’t have a choice whether we have BRC or not, so to increase fees so often doesn’t seem fair. We’ve not had price increases for our goods in over a decade, and have been told this year that some customers expect a price deflation.
      Participate and professional are pretty much useless to an SME – surely they should be optional add-ons with everything you need to comply with the standard included in the service fee?

      1. Rebecca, my understanding is that your customers would accept any GFSI recognised certificate. Is that right?

        1. I’ve always thought we needed BRC, but our customer base that require it are food service, manufacturing and retail pack through a third party. Now you’ve mentioned it I will look into it though.

          1. Rebecca that would be amazing, the more feedback we can get from customers the better. I’ve contacted all the major retailers so hopefully we’ll get some responses from them. Fingers crossed 🙂

    2. I have to agree with Neil there is a desperate need for an alternative that is as acceptable to our customers.

    3. Quite right too. I don’t suppose pressing for referral to the competition & markets authority would do any good, since there are a number of alternatives for certain organisations to adopt (Red Tractor, etc.) and IFS may be considered a ‘global’ option. Yet BRC remains the most widely recognised and ‘assisted upon’ by the wide customer base that S&D operators often have. To not have it only invites multiple audit requests from customers, which takes up yet more resource. Rock, hard place..

  6. Re: 2020 Fee Increases
    So not only have we had to pay for an additional extension audit due to the Coronavirus pandemic but now we’ll have to pay an increased cost for the routine audit. Ridiculous! When the country is facing such a huge recession wouldn’t you think the powers that be at BRCGS would be embarrassed to even think about this!

  7. As a consultant, I have already found that clients are moving from BRC to alternative systems (FSSC, IFS). Cost is the main reason, but there are others as well. The 15% increase will just speed up this process.

  8. I must admit i paid a subscription fee before it became a “free” service and i have had no problem with it.

  9. That just given me the incentive to look for an alternative, usual money grabbing behaviour by BRCGS. Ridiculous to even contemplate it in the current climate.

  10. When I used to spend time BRC auditing many of the family owned fresh produce sites with smaller packhouses I really used to feel for them as we are all aware how many of these businesses already struggle with the battles they have with payment terms/margins with supplying retailers which is already challenging enough.

    I too have seen certain sites looking at alternative options however I echo the comment above, I do believe there needs to be a viable alternative.

    I also believe the timing of this increase is perhaps a little considering the situation everybody finds themselves in.

  11. Utterly ridiculous – to even think of a 15% increase at the present time. They’re just showing themselves up for the money grabbing entity that they really are. Time to look for alternative GFSI standards.

  12. This is ridiculous…… we are trying to run and make some money like everybody else, hiking prices up does not help businesses stay a float.

  13. Only yesterday I was talking with one of our fellow techie’s about the losses that BRC may be subjected to, during the current covid situation. When I thought about it, they have now imposed a fee for certificate extensions which is half of the normal audit fee (as the certificate is 6 months) and then an actual audit will need to take place, at the increased service fee price (for 12 months). So in actual fact, over a 12 month period, they will be recieving 18 months worth of fees. Not bad really.

    I was also looking at the governance side of BRCGS yesterday as well and I would hope that International Advisory Board, which includes UK retailers and food service providers – would ensure that BRC are doing the right thing in the current climate. It would be interesting to hear their thoughts on the matter. You can see who is on their governance board here: https://www.brcgs.com/about/governance/

  14. Unacceptable way to treat customers. I think that if you are in the fortunate position of your customers accepting any GFSI approved standard, now is the time to look at possible alternatives such as FSSC 22000.

  15. I think it is terrible that they are increasing their service fee, at this time, when most businesses have seen a major downturn in sales & profit.
    It would seem that the BRCGS are not thinking thing through, or they really do not care about the industry

    I would certainly sign a petition against the increase at this time.

  16. Hi everyone,

    I had 6 clients certified 6 years ago, all against BRC. I now have about 10, but only one follows BRC standard, and it’s because the boss is selling its business atm.
    They all move to FSSC 22000. Small companies, and way easier to manage with a non british standard when you’re outside the UK. BRC’s range of high care / high risk product is just… unbelievable on the continent.

    1. I’ve had similar stories in my training courses where a company migrates from BRC to FSSC 22000. Technical staff in some industry sectors complain that BRC is too prescriptive and they find themselves implementing a procedure or doing something in a particular way because the BRC standard and guidance says they have to do it that way. Result in their opinion is that it can lead to a more time consuming system or a financial investment which doesn’t add anything to food safety, legality or customer requirements. FSSC does give the flexibility in how you do something providing that what you have in place is effective and you have all the evidence to prove this. You still have to identify and implement the requirements of customers and other ‘interested parties’ as it is a requirement in the FSSC standards. Some BRC certificated business do not have a retailer as their customer so they have some flexibility in choosing which GFSI standard they use. Interesting to hear which retailers allow you to choose other GFSI standards. Does anyone know what the current situation is on this for different retailers?

      1. Hello.
        The reallity in Portugal is that retailers from Spain and Germany operating in the country (as LIDL and Mercadona) they “recommend” the IFS Food. Thus, the BRC is only demanded for companies who export to the UK. FSSC as litlle expression in Portugal, but some companies are already looking to this Standard as an alternative to BRC (even in the packaging industries).

  17. I think at this moment in time particularly for the SME’s that I work with this increase in cost shall lead to some considering not going forward with further BRCGS approvals and look at alternative accreditations.

  18. I believe there should be a be a combined Food Industry protest to BRC to establish what has driven an increase in these days of lock down and potential recession post Covid – I would say that a lot will look for an alternative scheme especially those multi site businesses.

    1. Agree – combined industry protest – and a combined industry inquiry into the countless various expensive certifications we are told to get ….BRCGS / Red Tractor / Organic / PGI – then an audit by each customer .. its endless

  19. I was always cautious when BRC was changed to BRCGS because it now seems to have morphed into an authority more keen on making money rather than supporting the food industry and hence the regular updates to an already robust standard in order to increase their fees. In this day and age with a massive recession looming because of Covid, and when it appears that quite a number of businesses will have to close, this seems immoral to impose further increases. I think they are forcing businesses to look for alternative Food Safety Assurance schemes especially as retailers still seem to want to carry out their own schemes. Factories are already burdened with massive audit overhead costs and this just adds another nail in the coffin.

  20. This is typical of the BRCGS. how can they promote that they support businesses when they are making increases at this difficult time. Maybe it is time for an alternative. When times are hard and everyone is struggling the pure arrogance of the BRGS shows through.

  21. All of our arms are up our backs here. If we choose to have the correct certificates in place, which of course we have to do in order to attract business, then we have no choice but to pay these bloated fees.
    The alternative is not attracting the business. Whichever option you choose, its either a slow decline or a rapid one, but decline all the same.
    The packaging industry, like the food sector, cannot increase their costs, as this would knock on to the public, and of course we would all be subject of their negative opinions, the people behind the scenes can, and always have got away with being the unseen face of increase.

    1. I agree Jason that certification is a must to attract business, but there are alternatives to BRCGS out there. I’m currently working on an article which will compare BRCGS to other GFSI recognised schemes. I’m also trying to get feedback from retailers in the UK about whether BRC is a must, or if a GFSI recognised scheme is ok. My suspicion is that a GFSI certificate would be acceptable.

      1. Hi Kassy,
        I don’t have that much information about the UK, but in Belgium, here’s how it works :
        All retailers accept any GFSI certificate. The only exception to this is Aldi which requires an IFS, higher level.
        For SME’s, retailers often accept the “light” version, which is called “Global Market” by the GFSI, Start by BRC, development program by FSSC

  22. As soon as BRC got bought out by a profit making company and rebranded to BRCGS the writing was on the wall. It’s all about making money for the ‘services’ provided. Why aren’t they investigated by an equivalent of the monopoly’s commission as they have a monopoly on certification for retail supplying companies. It’s also partly due to the big influence of certain retailers who helped create BRC in the first place ( look at the list in the standard of participants) so that’s why some still insist on using this standard. I’ve been badgering my own company to go FSSC22000 for the past 3 years as we are already ISO9001 accredited so the fit for us is better. It’s disgraceful that BRCGS is profiting from the COVID19 situation which I personally believe is immoral and they can cry on about all their ‘services’ which may or may not be available and oh, here’s another publication you can buy to make sure you understand our standard and the extra costs of not being able to conduct remote auditing but still extending your certification………! Arrgghh! makes me very cross and I believe they will shoot themselves in the foot as more companies will move away from BRCGS. Sorry, rant over…..

    1. I operate growing and production sites around the world, our holding Company is based in the U.K. and that market has typically been our major customer base

      We set up our sites to be audited against U.K. standards, Typically BRC, TFMS, TPPS, F2F etc, but I will agree that the Standard has become overly burdensome and expensive for small seasonal sites, as most of ours are, especially after the release of version 8.

      We supply many other markets outside the U.K. and are actually looking to reduce our offering into the U.K. as it’s becoming much less attractive.

      But other bodies such as SEDEX have also raised their membership prices incrementally over the past few years well above what could be considered reasonable for a “non profit organisation”. Not to mention that the SAQs now require completely redoing due to the new platform rolling out.

      I’ll agree with a previous post that we are in the wrong business, auditing and residue analysis testing are taking an ever bigger slice of our diminishing cake.

  23. Disgraceful
    Food Industry is struggling at the moment, combating the current crisis, many have lost as much as 60% of their turnover, whilst still absorbing increased costs in raw materials and manufacturing goods, with an ever decreasing global resource.
    it is support we need at present not more impact, businesses will be closing and those not downsizing to accommodate the changes, technical and quality departments will be predominantly targeted in this respect, we have to have certification, but it is becoming a necessary evil and ever escalating cost.

  24. Mike says:
    1st July 2020 at 5:00 pm
    I was always cautious when BRC was changed to BRCGS because it now seems to have morphed into an authority more keen on making money rather than supporting the food industry and hence the regular updates to an already robust standard in order to increase their fees.

    Carrie says:
    2nd July 2020 at 8:36 am
    As soon as BRC got bought out by a profit making company and rebranded to BRCGS the writing was on the wall. It’s all about making money for the ‘services’ provided.

    Exactly what I thought.
    I started with BRC Food Issue 1 and moved into private work in 2006.
    I’ve advised on BRC Food, S&D and Packaging Standards to English and European companies and watched food safety/quality and legality blossom but, imo, from Issue 7 of Food, it has started to wither to the point where it no longer helps the SME I advise – and since 2017 the same for S&D/Packaging.
    Now, as I retire, my final advice/suggestion to UK clients working and selling within the UK is they work to an in house Code of Practice along the lines of the new STS codes, invite customers to submit SAQs, or attend the site, as a response to enquiries and if a certificate is needed book an audit with STS
    For me it is a great shame to watch something I have been involved with since inception fail because of the greed of the Standards owners who are, imo, just looking for cash

  25. Many Companies are currently experiencing a masive reduction in Sales (fees). A price hike in anything, least of all a service, at this time is pure greed, even malpractice. There is utterly no justification for this, they are taking advantage of a captive market and should be made to publicly expose their spurious excuses for this legalised robbery!

  26. This is in incredibly poor taste on the part of the BRCGS. The food industry is under enough pressure in the current climate without added unnecessary costs.

  27. Disgraceful behavior – but not even a bit surprised. I work mainly with primary process sites – we are 100% monitored by the FSA -actually on site – BRCGS gives us no food safety benefit WHATSOEVER – but to be a supplier we are required to have it – now another £££ increase added to the extra half day charge this year – plus the Covid one we will be expected to get – where can we go ?
    We need our industry leaders to object – we need to move away from pointless certification which generates more and more lack of focus on true food safety – unfortunately I am seeing more and more experienced food safety experts retiring / changing careers due to the sheer bone breaking exhaustion of fighting these money making machines.

  28. Hello Kassy,
    You might find the accounts of BRC Trading an interesting read…
    The Business Review section states “2019 has been a tremendous year for the company categorised by strong revenue growth.” “…leading to free cash flow growth…”

    Obviously a very profitable company, and good luck to them for that, but they are completely out of touch with the reality of managing a food manufacturing, packaging or S&D company with the demands of customers, very tight margins and not least the problems with the current situation we all find ourselves in.

  29. I feel it is unjustified. It does not reflect the real world realities for so many organisations who may be having to significantly reduce costs in order to survive. Additionally, I think V4 should be put back a year. From my perspective, a plan to recruit an additional team member had been cancelled to save costs. Therefore, just managing the audit process over the next 9 months will be a real challenge, let alone working up to new & adjusted requirements. BRC are either not aware of the current market conditions, or our supposed representatives on the various committees are going along with them far too easily.

  30. It’s time that BRCGS realised the pressure that the industry has been under in recent months – they could use some of the excess cash they generated in 2019 to subsidise the charge this year. This would go a long way to giving ‘value for money’ – this could be tiered according to turnover with the largest reduction for the smaller companies. Otherwise the result will be a drift away to other standards.

    1. I agree Paul. It’s a shame the previous article and the comments on it from sites has not yet caused any response from BRCGS. Perhaps internal politics is slowing things down, or maybe it’s not something in their power to change. We can but hope in time, a response will come.

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