Budgeting and Forecasting Audit Programs

The importance of audit planning for food safety cannot be underestimated. However, budgeting and forecasting for an audit program is not the same as budgeting for a food safety program. Here, we’ll break down what you need to know for budgeting and forecasting audit programs and how to get management on board. First, let’s look at the differences between an audit budget and a food safety budget.  

Audit Budget vs. Food Safety Budget

When speaking with companies about conducting food safety audits, the most common source of confusion is the cost of food safety programs versus the cost of food safety audits. There is a HUGE difference between food safety program budgets and food safety audit budgets. Generally, the cost to build and maintain your food safety program will cost more than the cost of an actual food safety certification audit. 

Food safety programs will include (but not limited to) Risk Assessments, HACCP Plans, SOPs, Logs, Employee Training, microbiological testing, etc. In this article we are going to discuss the cost of just the food safety audits. If you’re looking for more information on the cost of food safety programs, here are a couple of our recent articles that can help:

Food Safety Solutions For Companies On A Budget
The Costs Of Food Safety: Correction vs. Prevention

Average Cost of Food Safety Audits

When looking at budgeting and forecasting audit programs, we need to break down the different types of audits and the associated audit costs for facilities and farms.

Non Certified GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) Audits, and GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) Audits are going to be less expensive than GFSI Certified audits like SQF, BRC, PrimusGFS, GlobalGAP etc. A non-certified food safety audit will cost somewhere around $1,200 to $1,800 per audit day. Farms may be half a day and facilities are generally a full day.  

GFSI certified food safety audits will cost differently based on the standards:

  • The following are Food Safety Standards for fruit and vegetable farms and facilities and most of these are one day audits:
    • PrimusGFS 
      • Farms:  $800 – $1,000 a farm
      • Facilities:  $1,200 – $2,000 a facility
    • GlobalGAP:  $1,200 – $2,000 a farm
  • The following are Standards used for all food, beverage, and packaging and most of these audits are 2-3 days in length:
    • SQF:  $1,450 – $2,000 a day
    • BRC:  $1,600 – $2,500 a day
    • IFS:  $1,600 – $2,500 a day
    • FSSC22000:  $1,600 – $2,500 a day

Other Fees and Expenses With Food Safety Audits

Now that you know the basic cost for your food safety audit, it’s important to note that there are other fees and expenses that will be added to your bill. Once you know the auditing company or Certification Body (CB) that you plan to use, get a quote with the audit cost AND all the other fees and expenses. On average we tell clients to expect to add another 25 to 30% to their audit cost for fees and expenses.

All Food Safety Auditing Companies will charge different fees. The list below are the most widely used:

  • Certification Fees: This is a fee the food safety standards charge the CB and or the Client. Fees range from $75-$300.
  • Admin Fees: This is a fee some auditing companies charge to administer the certification process.
  • Corrective Action Fee: Some Certification Bodies charge a CAR fee if the facility audited has a high number of non compliances that will have to be reviewed.  

Along with fees, all travel expenses for the auditor will also need to be paid by the auditee. It is really important to know where your auditor is coming from because other than the audit this is the next highest cost:

  • Flight
  • Hotel
  • Rental Car
  • Gas
  • Meals
  • etc.

How to Negotiate a Good Price for Food Food Safety Audits

When we talk with our clients about audit prices inevitably negotiation of price will come up. Most of the time there is no wiggle room in the price of the audit. Auditors are very professional and they need to be paid what they are worth. But occasionally the audit price may be reduced if there are ways to minimize the cost of the audits through project efficiencies. For instance, if you have multiple facilities and/or farms in a close proximity that could be audited by the same auditor over a short duration. If so, this could reduce travel expenses and the auditor may do the full project for a slightly lower fee. 

How to Get Management Commitment for Food Safety Audits

Food safety audits are a great tool to gauge the success of your food safety program. Actually, food safety audits are probably the best tool for gauging the success of your food safety program. If you are the food safety manager and trying to get buy-in from management for a particular food safety audit, explain that this is a great way to challenge your team and program to make sure you are continuously improving.

Another approach is letting your management know that the best way to protect their brand is by keeping them from a food safety outbreak.  And prevention is 100% better than correction.  See the article we wrote just recently on the same topic:

Leave a Reply