January 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of AIB International’s office debut in Europe. In the past two decades, AIB’s global network has expanded from its headquarters in North America to include regional offices in Europe, Latin America, and Asia Pacific.
In the late 80s, AIB began sending U.S.-based auditors to Europe to inspect bakeries and other facilities related to U.S. food producers. This work continued to grow with the addition of inspections for Dalgety, a British food enterprise. Due to the increase in inspections related to Dalgety, U.S.-based auditors were being sent overseas on a rotational basis for three to four weeks at a time. In 1992, the demand had grown enough that plans to establish a European-based AIB office were put in place. In January 1993, Betsy Blair, now head of GMP Audit Services, opened the AIB Europe office in a space leased from Leatherhead Food International.
For the first year, Blair ran the office alone, but as business steadily increased, AIB Europe expanded its audit staff. Now the AIB audit team has representatives in 21 countries across the globe. At the time the AIB Europe office originated, the focus of the European legislation was very different than the direction the United States food regulations had taken, most notably in the area of integrated pest management (IPM).
Initially, AIB Europe exclusively offered the AIB GMP Inspection, with an annual seminar offered for the first few years. Business was originally centered in Western Europe, with a few requests for inspections in South Africa and some in the Middle East. Although AIB began working overseas at the request of Dalgety, it wasn’t long before large U.S.-based companies, like East Balt, Walkers, and McDonald’s began using AIB to inspect its global suppliers. Now AIB has expanded its services to include certification audits under the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), annual public food safety and food defense seminars, as well as private training and consulting to large- and small-sized food companies in countries across six continents. The AIB Europe office is now serving many more suppliers, as well as small, local companies. As business in the Middle East and Eastern Europe continues to grow, AIB says it is expanding its territory to include more Russian-based companies.
In the early 2000s, AIB expanded its services and began offering BRC audits as a service to its clients who were seeking a certified third-party audit provider. Although the impact of GFSI-accepted audit schemes has certainly been felt in North America over the past five years, GFSI adoption hasn’t affected AIB’s international offices as much as in the U.S.
AIB now has four regional offices established in North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Europe/Middle East/Africa, with representatives in 24 countries, three Canadian provinces, and 28 of the United States.
Source: Bakers Journal