Quality eLine Newsletter
March 2004
Vol. 6, No. 3

"Fanatics," using SQCpack, create quality at Ben & Jerry's

When Quality Assurance folks are “absolute fanatics,” like those at Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont, the outcome is predictable: high quality products, cost savings, and a reputation for consistent excellence. With a QA system built on an integrated data approach and utilizing SQCpack in its panoply of quality tools, these “fanatics” have identified savings of more than $100,000 in the past year while continuing to build the company’s reputation for great ice cream products, according to Ben & Jerry’s.

Ben & Jerry’s has sustained this reputation for quality since the company was founded in 1978 in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont. Using fresh Vermont milk and cream, innovative flavors, and quality assurance that includes use of SQCpack, the Vermont company of about 750 people dedicated to producing great ice cream products is known for its commitment to the progressive values identified in its mission statement.

Using SQCpack to analyze test run data related to the amount of air put into the ice cream mix, the chunks (e.g., chocolate) that go into products, and the volume of product in its cups, the company leaves no stone unturned when it comes to collecting and analyzing data to assure high quality. Consistency in these areas translates into six-figure cost savings each year.

Besides traditional premium ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s distributes low fat ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and novelty products nationwide and in selected foreign countries. Its products are found not only in supermarkets and grocery outlets, but also in convenience stores, franchised Ben & Jerry’s “scoop shops,” restaurants, and other venues.

As challenging as it is to create high-quality ice cream products, the company’s mission identifies its intention of doing just that, while at the same time sustaining a commitment to natural ingredients and business practices that “respect the Earth and the Environment.” The economic and social missions of the company promise expanding opportunities for development and growth for employees and operating the company with an eye to improving the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally.

An ambitious mission, indeed---but one that is carried out emphatically in the company’s attention to waste, conservation of resources, and employee wellbeing. And at the same time, the company is consistently profitable, offering good value to its investors. Ben & Jerry’s became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever in 2000, but its commitment to its original mission has not flagged.

The company has been recognized for Outstanding Sustainability Reporting by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) for its comprehensive report that “set an example” for other companies by reporting “an impressive number of initiatives and issues.” Among these issues are executive compensation, living wage and labor issues, waste management, and energy. Using chlorine-free, recycled paper for its containers, Ben & Jerry’s utilizes a non-PVC product for the tamper-evident bands on product lids as well. In its energy consumption, it reduced carbon dioxide emissions and, rather than selling its pollution credits to another company, donated these credits to “Clean Air—Clean Planet,” an organization committed to promoting practical solutions to global warming, including retiring pollution credits.

Beyond delicious ice cream products, it is clear that Ben & Jerry’s is committed to quality in every aspect of its operation, from compensation of employees to environmental issues. For most of us, a taste of Chunky Monkey or Phish Food is enough to be convinced of this commitment. Once they’ve tasted the company’s ice cream products, customers become—like Ben & Jerry’s quality assurance folks--“absolute fanatics” themselves.

See how easy SQCpack is to use and how it can help your company. Download your free 30-day trial at www.pqsystems.com

Copyright 2004 PQ Systems.

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