What does Quality actually mean?

I am naturally very observant when it comes to my food and the quality of it; this is most probably due to external influence of the false perception of Quality.

I have read many different points of view on what Quality actually mean. And it boiled down to the following;

Product Quality has become a competitive issue. Quality is universal recognized of uncompromising standards and high achievements.

Quality is viewed as an inherent characteristic of goods such as different varieties and their specific characteristics.

Naturally, high-quality products are those that best meet the needs of a majority of consumers. A consensus of views is implied, with virtually all users agreeing on the desirability of certain product attributes. But that is the viewpoints of the consumers not necessarily those of the producers.

Brand names, advertising and marketing packaging is equally important to the consumer, visually, and will ensure optimal production for the producers. This is generally perceived as “quality” associated with a specific brand.

Today durability is regarding as an important element of quality. Long-lived produce are generally preferred to those with a short shelf life of the same commodity.

Other important elements of quality that arose were that of reliability; to be sure of a demand and a market and for that product not to fail in the market.

Perceived Quality (Aesthetics) – the cosmetic look, how it feels, taste and smells. This is very much a sensory aspect.

Functional aspect – of convenience and post harvest life.

Health and safety – is the product free of insects and/or diseases affecting internal quality. We look at what pathogens, residue, growth promoters, additives, toxins, physical contaminants are being used, if any.

Nutritional quality – Nutritional value, calories, fibre, sodium, vitamins and minerals.

The performance and consistency of a product – the taste, texture, juice content and if it is fresh looking (no sign of dehydration). Now to me, that rite there, is Quality.

It is also very contradicting on how people in general define organic as opposed to conventional produce. The more imperfect organic produce, the better, where as the cosmetic aspect to conventional produce has been blown out of proportion according to some producers. With that said, I think there should a fine line between what is expected and what is realistic for both consumers and producers.

Obviously the producers must comply with all the above and must go through quality certification and all this can be become extremely expensive, thus the overall statement was made that Higher – Quality can only be obtained at higher cost. Making me question on do quality improvements lead to higher or lower profits. But we will get into that another day…