CIFT member, Willy’s Fresh Salsa, is a manufacturer of seven flavors of fresh salsa found in thousands of stores nationwide.

Looking to expand their retail options, the salsa maker sought to achieve the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Food Safety Initiative Certification, known in the food manufacturing industry as a leading global quality and food safety certification program.

The Swanton, Ohio based company, employers of more than 30 people, utilized their CIFT membership by seeking assistance from Shari Plimpton, Ph.D., vice president and director of food industry programs, and Stacy Vernon, project manager, to achieve the certification. Dr. Plimpton and Vernon also included CIFT members Savour Food Safety International (to assist with developing, coaching, training and implementation of the food safety and quality programs) and Richter International (for process authority assistance).

The BRC certification was accomplished in their first attempt – a rare feat for most small business food companies – and the AA grade received was the highest mark possible.

“The results of this initial audit exemplify the commitment and dedication of the entire team at Willy’s to making safe, delicious, fresh salsa while maintaining world class quality and service,” said David Cole, COO/CIO, Willy’s Fresh Salsa. “We are very excited for what lies ahead.”

Achieving such certification assures customers, retail stores, brokers and other parties that they are dealing with a company that is monitoring and continually improving product quality and safety as well as ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and governmental regulations.

The certification has other substantial benefits as Willy’s Fresh Salsa was able to hire 15 full and part-time employees for additional sales volume, and the company invested more than $1,000,000 in equipment and upgrades to the facility. The BRC certification also opens the door to private label and co-packing opportunities that were not possible to explore before certification.

This milestone for the company lends the strong possibility to adding more than 10 jobs over the next several months as distribution grows. Increased annual revenue is projected to exceed more than $4,000,000 this year.