Understanding the problems of managing quality in the handling chain for horticultural products

Lee, Karen Wing Sze (1995) Understanding the problems of managing quality in the handling chain for horticultural products. Research Master thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


In response to the establishment of the East Gippsland Vegetable Industry Board, a major new initiative in fresh vegetable production, marketing and a research program was initiated. It was to examine a number of factors highlighted by the Boston Consulting Group that were inhibiting the industry from becoming world competitive. These factors included the size of individual production units, transport and handling procedures, postharvest care, yield and a poor understanding of the handling chain and market intelligence (Boston Consulting Group, 1992c). As part of the research program, this study was initiated to analyse the handling chain for fresh horticultural produce. Its purpose was to provide a detailed understanding of the conditions affecting the development of a quality management program. As will be seen in the following literature review, well controlled and operated handling chains are difficult to establish in Australia. Therefore, it is important that this aspect of horticulture be thoroughly understood so that it can be operated efficiently. Such a requirement is rendered more important when it is considered that East Gippsland is at least 300 km from any major port or distribution centre. This report through the use of a range of methods (i.e. pilot study, survey and case study) puts forward the thesis that for the long term sustainability of the fresh produce industry in Australia, it is necessary that procedures be established to enable market signals to be better disseminated to all players along the handling chain. This lack of information flow makes it difficult for suppliers to ensure that the product consistently satisfies consumer requirements. Other problems related to material handling, transport efficiency, storage facilities, training needs and quality control procedures are related to the fragmented nature of the industry. The survey showed a correlation between how well a producer understood the complexity of the handling chain and how he resolved other quality related problems. In overcoming this central issue, three case studies were undertaken to define different kinds of solutions. While this study makes a number of recommendations, the real challenge for operators in this industry is to put into place as quickly as possible a series of actions that will integrate customers needs into the whole production-distribution-supply system. This suggests the need for a more coordinated approach to quality management such as TQM (Total Quality Management). To be successful in implementing such a program in this industry frequent communication and co-operation within the whole handling chain would be needed. In order to achieve the desired industry commitment to quality, there are four major which need to be addressed when implementing TQM: (a) Importance of regular timely customer feedback (b) Formalisation of handling procedures for the entire handling chain (c) Importance of education and training (d) Avoid the confusing aspects of Quality Assurance (QA) and Total Quality Management (TQM) in quality management.

Additional Information

Master of Business

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/18186
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 0706 Horticultural Production
Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Faculty of Business and Law
Keywords horticultural produce, economic aspects, handling chains, material handling, quality control methods, marketing, Australia
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