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What to Look for in a Food Ingredient Supplier: 7 Vital Factors

If you’re in the food manufacturing business, be it baked goods, snacks, meals, or dietary supplements, your first instinct when contemplating how your company can grow and earn more profit is likely to look to your customers. This is where your choice of food ingredient supplier comes in play.

Some key questions you may ask include: How do I get their attention? How do I make sure they choose me over my competition? How can I keep them coming back for more?

While most business owners will turn their attention to obvious customer-facing strategies like marketing or branding to address these questions, the truth is the answer sometimes can be traced back to the basics: the quality of your ingredients. Your choice of a food ingredients company is probably what you need to be looking at all along.

More often than not, a food ingredients supplier wields great influence over a manufacturing business’s success — silently steering the flavour, quality, aroma, and texture of your products. So, it would stand to reason that you exercise sufficient due diligence in selecting the ideal ingredient company.

On that note, here’s a seven-point checklist you should keep in mind when choosing a food ingredient supplier:

1. Quality Assurance

What sometimes differentiates one food ingredient company from another is its commitment to improve the quality of its products continuously and the lengths it would take to ensure they are safe for customer consumption.

A good supplier invests great resources in the latest technologies and laboratory equipment, and employs experienced food scientists and flavour specialists to elevate the nutritional and taste profiles of their ingredients.

They’ll also comply with the regulatory standards and certification requirements of the region in which they operate to guarantee the safety of their ingredients.

2. Industry Expertise

If you’re taking a chance on a new line of products, say, gluten-free snacks for vegan customers, you’ll want to partner with a supplier who has a firm grasp of the nuances of manufacturing for such a specialised market.

In that case, a food ingredient company with the experience and capabilities to supply the requirements of this specific niche that can also advise you on the latest dietary trends and industry best practices, and maybe even help with recipe development, will prove invaluable.

3. Delivery Speed and Punctuality

Having to stop production because the ingredients shipment is late is the kind of situation no business owner wants to find themselves in. Promptness is fundamental in any business transaction, and that goes double for B2B supply orders, where a chain of operations relies on timely deliveries.

For this reason, it’s always a good idea to investigate the logistics infrastructure of an ingredient supplier to ensure it is expansive enough to meet the delivery timelines of your business. You could also look up their branches’ proximity to your manufacturing plant to set reasonable expectations.

It might also be a good idea to ask whether they can accommodate short-notice orders and offer any options for expedited shipping in case of emergencies.

4. Warehousing and Storage

The quality and safety of your ingredients can suffer significantly if the supplier does not employ proper storage and warehousing practices.

If you operate in the Gulf region, where temperatures can climb to the high 40s and 50s during the summer, a supplier with temperature-controlled storage facilities, including ambient, chilled and frozen sections, should be your number one choice.

In such a scenario, the size of their warehouses matters too, because large quantities of ingredients need more storage space lest they risk spoilage and cross-contamination.

5. Customer Support

Customer service is yet another element to consider when selecting a food ingredient supplier. Proactive technical service, market intelligence, supply chain management, and logistics support are all areas where they should be able to offer assistance and guidance.

Look for a partner whose teams are available to answer questions you may have ‌and go beyond what’s expected of them to ensure your business runs at peak efficiency.

6. Price

Ask potential suppliers for price quotes and compare them to ascertain who offers the best terms. However, don’t let yourself be tempted to base your selection on pricing alone because cheaper is not always better.

Take into account all the above factors and weigh the total value of their offerings against their rates. Only then can you be sure you’ve partnered with the most suitablesupplier for your business.

7. Range of Ingredients

Suppose you plan on releasing a new line of products down the line. You’re not there yet, but you’d like the peace of mind of knowing that when the time comes, you can confidently source all your ingredients from your current supplier without switching vendors.

In that case, before you enter into any arrangement, evaluate the breadth of an ingredient company’s portfolio and check if it keeps up with the latest trends in food manufacturing.

A Partnership for the Long Haul

Choosing the right food ingredient supplier is a significant business decision because once you’ve entered into an agreement, they’ll likely be around for a while.

Start with this checklist, read reviews from current customers, ask questions, and get a firsthand account of their experience with a potential supplier.

Remember that‌ you want to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty, and selecting the right supplier can move you closer to your business goals.

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