Product quality is tested through sensory evaluation, effectively supported by laboratory tests performed at our Alcohol Control Laboratory. In addition to a flawless taste, Alko also ensures that the labelling on product packaging is accurate and fulfils legal requirements.
Product quality is not left to chance
The products that Alko decides to sell are of proven high quality. Only about ten per cent of the products that are offered to us every year end up in our standard selection. These top products are selected by Alko’s expert jury. During their evaluations, the jury members pay attention to customer requirements, product quality and other factors that generate added value, such as price and ethical certification. Before any beverages reach our store shelves, all candidates for our selection are further tested with selected laboratory analyses appropriate to the product group in question.
We monitor the quality of the products we sell using a risk-based quality assurance programme. Tests help to ensure that products are of high quality and their package labelling is up to date. For example, the quality of each new vintage of a particular wine in the standard selection will be tested both in the laboratory and through sensory evaluation. When taste-testing a new vintage, we also update the characteristics and taste style provided in our customer materials.
Laboratory tests supplement extensive quality assurance
The Alcohol Control Laboratory (ACL) is owned by Alko and undertakes the majority of the laboratory analyses of the products we sell. This laboratory is the only organisation in Finland that can provide the product tests required by the supervisory authorities. In addition to providing analyses for Alko, the ACL also offers alcohol analytics to Finnish authorities, beverage manufacturers and importers.
Laboratory measurements can test only one product characteristic or compound at a time. This means that you have to know what it is you want to define or look for in a beverage. It is not possible to define all the compounds contained in a beverage using laboratory measurements. However, it is likewise impossible to adequately analyse products on the basis of sensory evaluation alone. By combining laboratory tests with sensory evaluation, we can ensure high quality in all product characteristics.
Cooperation and monitoring returns are a seal of high product quality
As Alko’s selection is so extensive, we cannot test every single product batch before it goes on sale. Although product producers and importers carry out their own quality assurance, some products with quality defects occasionally end up on sale. The majority of these defective products are one-off cases that cannot be prevented even with thorough preliminary inspections. We seek to minimise the number of defective products that end up in our customers’ hands. Every product that is returned to our stores due to a quality defect is entered into our returns database. We actively monitor the number of returns and are able to use this information to identify and remove defective product batches from sale.
Our suppliers play a significant role in Alko’s product quality. We monitor the quality of their products and operations using our Best Supplier indicators. We didn't announce the annual Supplier of the Year 2018, because the meters of the monitoring are to be renewed. Smooth cooperation ensures that we are aware of our products’ delivery chain, and also helps us obtain any significant information about quality-related issues as soon as possible.