Steps To Choosing The Right Food Supplier

written on Wed 11 October 2017 by

If you asked a bulk groceries manufacturer 20 years ago how they selected an ingredient supplier, they would have likely said it was based on price, flavor or the supplier location and preference. However, as government and industry put a stronger emphasis on food safety and quality, evaluating and selecting the right supplier today has become much more critical and complex.

Selecting the right wholesaler of catering foods may seem like an onerous process for your supply chain. While having a more simplistic supplier selection process may be helpful for some smaller supply chains, a more involved process of selecting the right suppliers can help many food and nutrition companies meet or exceed regulatory standards, drive customer demand and build a strong brand reputation of quality products Selecting the suppliers who can meet your consumers’ demand for higher-quality ingredients may bring some initial costs, but it will pay off over time through consistent, high-grade materials. However, the process to find the ideal supplier is often not easy and requires discipline and hard work.                 

1. Identifying a Supplier
Before selecting your restaurants food, it is important to gather the opinions of stakeholders and define the criteria for the selection process. This list of stakeholders may include members from research and development, purchasing, marketing, quality assurance and any other area of your organization that touches the supplier selection process.

During this time, it is important to identify a few suppliers to assess their capabilities and compare pricing. The supplier selection team should work with the potential suppliers to establish specifications. For example, they should explain how the supplier’s materials would be used in your products and within the manufacturing process. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is a win-win situation for the supplier and manufacturer; therefore, open and transparent communication is extremely important. A key criterion in selecting the right supplier is value. Cost should not be the lone driver; you should instead look at the total cost of ownership, which looks at the supplier’s:
• Customer service
• Delivery commitments
• Reliability and responsiveness
• Resource savings (hard and soft)

2. Measuring Supply Performance
Another important step of the supplier management process is developing an audit and assessment program. Best-in-class supplier programs conduct audits throughout multiple stages of the manufacturer/supplier relationship. You should always conduct an audit before the contract is signed to confirm that the supplier does not have any significant compliance or quality system failures that could affect your ability to produce top-quality products. Another reason to conduct the audit beforehand is to understand the supplier’s strengths and weaknesses before the relationship becomes official. Even after the contract is signed, you should continue auditing, basing the frequency of the audits on the criticality of the supplier. To determine the frequency, all suppliers should be categorized into a level of risk or importance. This prioritization will help you be smarter and more effective with your resources and place a higher focus on your important, high-risk suppliers, while continuing to monitor second-tier suppliers.

Beyond an established audit program, you should continuously monitor and assess each supplier’s performance. You can track positive or sustained strong performances, as well as negative trends.