NSF and QAI merge to form certification giant

NSF International, a not-for-profit risk management company, has acquired Quality Assurance International (QAI), an organic certification firm that operates at nearly 3,000 sites around the world. By joining forces, the firms hope to provide independent, third-party certification programmes and quality control services throughout the food industry.

?With the combined efforts of QAI and NSF, we will expand our certification, food safety, auditing and organic certification services,? said Kevan Lawlor, NSF president and CEO, at a news conference announcing the acquisition at the March ExpoWest convention in California. ?We especially want to reach out to retailer certification and intend to bundle our services so they can get all of their certification needs at one place.?

The move comes on the heels of increasing demand by consumers for assurances of both quality and safety in food products, QAI said.

?The entire industry is requiring more certification, quality, safety and health,? said Joe Smillie, senior vice president with QAI. ?The industry has come under attack on food safety issues, and we need to answer it.?

Though both American companies, both NSF and QAI have a strong international presence and foresee strong expansion opportunities abroad, particularly in Asia.

?QAI is the leading global supplier of organic certification services, and NSF is the leading global supplier of safety services,? explained Kathy Pompliano, a general manager at NSF. ?When we go to (natural foods) conventions, we often get requests from Asian countries, so that is definitely a part of the world where we could see some growth.

?We hope to provide one-stop shopping to these companies. If you are a company selling organic herbs, for example, you can come to us and get both dietary-supplement and organic certification at one time.?

Founded in California in 1989, QAI has focused on providing certification services at each step of the organic production food chain. About two-thirds of all certified organic products in the US use QAI services.

NSF was founded in 1944 and is headquartered in Michigan; it provides product certification and safety audits for the food and water industries in 83 countries.

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