Tag Archives: supplier management

Katy Jones, Foodlogiq
FST Soapbox

Supplier Management: Grow Strategic Partnerships and Drive Value Across the Supply Chain

By Katy Jones
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Katy Jones, Foodlogiq

According to a report by Kroll and The Economist Intelligence Unit, 17% of companies experienced some type of vendor, supplier or procurement fraud in 2015. While fraud is one of the more extreme examples of supplier management complications, the manufacturer-supplier relationship is notoriously fickle and can result in serious issues if attention and care is not reciprocal from the beginning.

With great communication and even better processes in place, your suppliers have the potential to become strategic partners for your brand, helping drive your values across the supply chain while also helping you achieve overarching business goals.

Do Your Homework

In order to foster positive supplier relations, it is important to consider all available options and carefully assess them before engaging. In the research phase, it is critical to get as many references as possible to ensure you align with a potential supplier when it comes to safety practices and brand values. Looking at a supplier’s history is an effective way to gauge how your partnership will pan out and catch any red flags before they become a bigger problem for the brand, whether that be poor communication habits, dishonesty about products or inconsistent record keeping.

FSMA deadlines for compliance with the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) are right around the corner. With the changing regulatory landscape, thoroughly investigating potential suppliers is crucial, especially if they are outside of the United States, as the stakes are much higher. Under the FSVP, importers are essentially “guilty” until proven “innocent”—a sharp contrast from how foreign suppliers were previously handled by the FDA. The standards for imported food are stricter than ever, as are the consequences for companies that are found working with foreign suppliers without verification. With the FSVP, the FDA can halt all importations completely as long as they have reason to believe the supplier is not compliant with the program.

Communication Is Key

At the cornerstone of any good relationship is communication; the same goes for relationships within the food industry.

Once a supplier has been thoroughly vetted and is officially on the team, the key to maintaining a successful relationship is transparency. Without full transparency with suppliers, you can’t offer consumers reliable information about their food. At the same time, manufacturers need to be straightforward with their needs to ensure suppliers are able to uphold their expectations. By thoroughly communicating plans and expectations, you and your suppliers can effectively work together to achieve future goals.

At the start of a working relationship with a supplier, it is important to comprehensively onboard and train them in your plans and processes to avoid a lack of understanding down the line. By setting up an all-encompassing onboarding system, inclusive of checklists and background documents on procedures and standards, you can help ease growing pains and empower your new food supplier to become a trusted partner. For instance, if you use a specific supply chain technology, your suppliers should know ahead of time so they can receive adequate training on the solution. This will help streamline communication and minimize any bumps in the road.

Regular Check-Ups

While safety and contamination issues are undesirable, they are inevitable. When faced with an outbreak or contaminant in your supply chain, suppliers become your most crucial resource. A poorly handled recall can wreak havoc on a food manufacturer, with the potential to ruin a trusted brand. Having the correct protocols in place with suppliers to ensure proper procedures are followed quickly and efficiently is critical. In order to make sure suppliers are complying with standards, keeping complete records and maintaining proper safety practices, it is essential to perform regular supplier audits.

With the addition of new technologies in the last few years, monitoring supplier performance and implementing corrective actions has never been easier. There are companies that offer supplier management and food safety management software to enable manufacturers 24/7 end-to-end visibility into their food supply chain and suppliers’ practices, while simplifying communication. Supplier management software offers a single platform that allows a brand to safeguard important supplier documentation, submit proper records to regulators when audited, streamline supplier audits and compliance records, and communicate corrective actions.

Overall, supplier management software with end-to-end supply chain visibility is a great way to keep up with suppliers and rest assured that your company’s food safety guidelines are being followed at all times.

Keeping Consumers Safe and Happy

With the current state of food safety, keeping suppliers in check is absolutely crucial for brands. As the FDA is increasing regulations with the adoption of FSMA, manufacturers must be able to trust their suppliers to uphold these new standards. If there are any slip-ups, your brand is held accountable. At the same time, with the increasing number of high-profile recalls and foodborne illness reports, consumers are on high alert, and winning their trust is harder than ever; today’s conscious consumer expects total transparency from their food brands, something only achieved through a strong supplier management program.

Fortunately, given advancements in technology, manufacturers can now foster more proactive relationships, assess supplier performance and achieve mutual goals across the chain smoothly.

While good supplier management requires time and resources, it is worth the investment. Putting in the effort to foster strategic partnerships with suppliers is key to mitigating safety and contamination issues, meeting the FDA’s regulations, as well as keeping consumers safe and happy.

John Kukoly of BRC Global Standards

Where BRC is Going, and How Can You Get There?

By Sangita Viswanathan
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John Kukoly of BRC Global Standards

Food Safety Tech (FST): We’re very excited to have you participate in the SafetyChain/ FoodSafetyTech’s GFSI Leadership Webcast Series with the October 24 BRC – The Road Ahead webcast. We know that you’ll first be addressing what is new with BRC today. What are some of the things you’ll be talking about in terms of current changes?

Kukoly: We are just on the cusp of releasing Issue 7 for BRC. This is scheduled to be released in January 2015. With this, there will be some changes made to how food companies and facilities can obtain the BRC standard. We have a really unique system, termed BRC Participate, that we propose to unveil during this time, which I will talk about more during the webinar.

FST: We know that audits will be a topic of many questions. Is BRC planning changes to the way it does audits? What are some of audit-related topics you’ll be addressing in the webinar?

Kukoly: One of the changes I will be talking about is the auditor-competency program. Other topics will include expansion of our unannounced audit program. BRC is currently the leader in this area, and Wal-Mart has specifically asked us about this. We have done such audits in over 600 sites already, and are currently the go-to people for unannounced audits now. We are also forming BRC Global Markets, which will help small and less developed companies to get ready for certification.

FST: You will also be talking about the direction of BRC in 2015 and beyond? Is there a “theme” or specific set of business drivers that are driving future changes to BRC?

Kukoly: In my opinion, the two most critical areas of focus for the food industry right now are risk management and supplier management. These are the two main key elements being covered in all new regulations under development, and if a food facility has these covered, then they are in a good place. These are the two specific drivers that are shaping future changes to the BRC standard.

FST: While we all know that while change is important, it’s not always easy to get already-burdened food safety organizations to embrace change. What are some of the things we’ll learn in the webinar about why embracing change is critical to the ongoing success of BRC certification?

Kukoly: I don’t think ‘why’ should be the right question. We should focus on ‘HOW’ to go about this. And I think we need to talk about food safety culture and change management. These are the areas that are key to success and embracing change.

FST: We know that you’ll be providing advice on how companies can start today to prepare for tomorrow’s BRC. Can you tell us some of the topics you’ll be addressing in this part of the webinar?

Kukoly: One of the topics I will be addressing is training, not necessarily for BRC, but for obtaining the right skill sets such as risk assessment or HACCP. These are necessary for any food manufacturing organization to prepare for tomorrow’s BRC, and to have robust systems and processes in place.

FST: It has been said that GFSI certification is a very good start to preparing for FSMA compliance. What are some of the key points you’ll be addressing when it comes to FSMA compliance and alignment with BRC?

Kukoly: If you look at FSMA expectations, they are very well aligned with requirements of BRC standards, whether it be supplier management and verification requirements, or risk assessment etc. Beyond that, it is about strength of traceability procedures, knowledge of FSMA within the facility and its qualified individual. The focus is primarily on robust supplier management programs and implementation. If all these are in place, then you are in a very good starting place for FSMA compliance.

Listen to John Kukoly talk more on these topics and take your questions live in the BRC – The Road Ahead webinar on Friday, October 24, 2014 at 10:00 PT/ 1:00 ET. Click here to register