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Quality Defects vs Condition Defects, What’s the Difference?

Your load of Florida oranges just arrived. You take some temperatures and they are fine. You check the temperature recorder and don’t see any signs of temperature abuse in transit. You open a few cartons and you see discoloured spots on the fruit. Your inspection shows 16% to 21% of the fruit is affected.  Do you request an inspection? Maybe. You know that the contract did not specify U.S. No. 1 grade, so good arrival guidelines apply. What does that little bit of information mean?

If the defect is skin breakdown, (a condition defect) you will have a valid claim against the shipper if the spots exceed a ½” circle on fruit that is 2 7/8” in diameter. The USDA’s “Shipping Point and Market Inspection Instructions for Florida Citrus” defines the defect on page 44.

This is what skin breakdown looks like.

The CFIA’s inspection will cost you $171.00 per hour. If your findings are similar to what the inspector reports on the certificate, the buyer will initiate a claim against the shipper. Problem solved. Now what if those sunken discoloured areas are oil spots, (a quality, or permanent defect)? Oil spots must exceed a 7/8” circle in diameter on fruit that is 2 7/8” in diameter. The USDA’s “Shipping Point and Market Inspection Instructions for Florida Citrus” defines the defect on page 39.

This is what oil spots (oleocellosis) looks like.

On a no-grade contract, quality defects do not “score” towards a claim, only condition defects score. Remember, you are paying $171.00 per hour for this inspection. If the certificate reports that the defect is oil spots, the shipper will tell the buyer that the defect does not count against the good arrival guidelines.

Why is this important for your company? If that inspection cost you $325.00 and the defect is a condition defect, the shipper pays for the cost of the inspection as a part of the claim. However, if the defect is a quality defect, and it doesn’t count towards a claim, you just spent $325.00 for no reason. The cost of the inspection comes out of the profit when that load is sold. Oops! Training is an investment. Having your quality control personnel properly trained and equipped with the most recent inspection manuals and visual aids can help you to keep that $325.00 in the profit column.  The OPMA provides training on a multitude of fruits and vegetables. We can also customize training to meet your company’s needs. Contact me for more information at, jeff@theopma.ca.

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