Please note that certain markets and buyers have requested that the deadline for producers’ Self-Assessment Questionnaires (SAQs) be changed due to the new updated Sedex SAQ. The new information is required to ensure a producer’s Sedex profile is up to date, and buyers have access to the most recent information relating to the producer’s practices on the farm. According to SIZA’s requirements, producers have a 90-day window from the renewal date to update and complete their latest SAQ. However, if buyers request the information before the 90 days are over, producers must update the SAQ as soon as they renew their membership and SIZA cannot override these requirements from buyers. Several retailers in the UK and EU have requested to expedite the process to ensure that the supply chain remains transparent while meeting the necessary compliance standards.
Why are SAQs so important?
The SIZA Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) is an essential component of the compliance journey of a producer or packhouse with the SIZA programme. The SAQ serves multiple purposes, enabling producers to maintain their compliance between audit periods and providing buyers with an online option to monitor their supply chain globally.
The SAQ serves the purpose of:
- Ensuring a producer benchmarks their practices against the current legislation and requirements set by markets year after year to ensure that they are always in line with legislation. This allows a producer to stay up to date with any changes that might arise and to improve on practices that might not be in line with market requirements.
- A producer can only schedule an audit if they have an approved SAQ for that year. This ensures that the auditing firm receives the most up-to-date information, which they will then evaluate on the farm to ensure that it has been implemented.
- SIZA provides longer audit validity periods for producers who achieve a Platinum, Gold, or Silver risk rating following a third-party audit. However, these extended periods of 2- or 3-years are only possible if the producer updates their SAQ every year. This annual update serves as a monitoring and evaluation tool for buyers and SIZA to ensure that good practices are maintained between third-party audits. To ensure that the auditor has the most up-to-date and accurate information relating to the site they are auditing, the latest SAQ should be completed and approved at least 7 days before the audit.
- The SAQ plays a role with the latest EU due diligence legislation, where a producer will need to provide certain information related to their practices to European buyers on certain topics.
The producers’ MySIZA membership level, the total number of workers, the location(s) of the site, and the distance between different sites (in case of multi-site registration) will influence the audit scheduling and the length of the audit. This information also has an impact on the costs surrounding the audit and the quotations that are given to members. Corroborating the information provided by the producer to the scheduler, the information on the SAQ, and the information collected by the auditor on the day of the audit is essential in ensuring that due diligence is done by the appointed audit company. If any discrepancies are picked up by audit schedulers, they should communicate with SIZA staff to validate the information and resolve any issues because it can have an influence on the audit non-compliances issued by the audit firm if SAQ information is not a true reflection of the site, its management systems and production practices.
SIZA members need to capture their information accurately when they register with SIZA or when updating their annual SAQ. Auditors and buyers may identify discrepancies that can cause further questions or concerns about the producer’s practices.
If you have any questions about your SAQ, please contact Ger-Mari Tesselaar at the SIZA office at (021) 852 8184 / firstname.lastname@example.org.