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Working with Approved Suppliers

Farmer in Agricultural WarehouseIt is a legal requirement to obtain food only from approved suppliers. This means that the supplier is acceptable to your local regulatory authority. But what does this actually mean for your food establishment?

How to Find Suppliers
The first thing you want to look for is to make sure that the supplier is a commercial supplier. This means they are under regulatory control and should meet all the necessary requirements. You should be careful about buying from roadside vendors, farmer’s markets, and local farmers. Never buy food that has been prepared in a home kitchen.

To actually find the suppliers that you will need, it’s a good idea to speak with fellow food establishment owners in your area. This is especially useful when opening a new location where you might not be familiar with local suppliers. There are also many resources online to help you find reputable suppliers.

What to Look Out For
There are certain foods that are more likely to carry dangerous pathogens. These foods are under strict requirements during shipping and handling. It is important to make sure suppliers selling these foods are following the requirements. These foods include canned foods, milk products, fish, molluscan shellfish, wild mushrooms, game animals, and eggs. The 2017 FDA Food Code is a good place to check these requirements.

It’s also a good idea to ask some questions before working with a new supplier. Here are some examples:

  • How long has your company been in business?
  • What are your food safety standards?
  • What will you do if there is an issue with the product?
  • How do you transport your products?

Other important questions, not as vital to food safety include:

  • What are your billing practices?
  • Is there a minimum order amount?
  • What is your delivery schedule?
  • Are there discounts for bulk orders?

The best way to avoid difficult situations is to carefully read and consider a contract with a supplier. It is best to avoid contracts that limit your ability to buy from other suppliers. Also, be wary if a contract states they can’t guarantee a constant price for the products. But you should still get a written contract that is signed by both parties. This ensures that you will be treated fairly and there will be consequences if the terms are violated.

Maintaining a Good Relationship
To keep a good relationship with your suppliers, stay in communication with them. If there is an issue, don’t hesitate to let them know and try to get it resolved. If you don’t communicate your concerns, then they won’t know how they can better serve you. And if you need something more from them, let them know before deciding to switch suppliers.

Another important tip to have a good relationship is to be a good client. Pay your bills on time to keep your supplier happy and motivated to work with you. They may even be willing to provide more benefits if you are a dependable client.

Try to give them adequate time to process your orders. Be honest with them about when you will need your products, but give them enough time to be ready for your orders. And as your needs change, let them know.

It’s also not a bad idea to try to be friendly with your suppliers. Visit their offices to get to know them. You can also invite them to come to your location too. Tell them exciting things that are going on in your company. Whether it’s a new manager, new location, or a change in menu, you might be surprised at the benefits of keeping your suppliers in the loop.

All in all, the best thing you can do is to communicate with your suppliers. Don’t be afraid to be demanding at times. But if you treat them fairly, they will be more likely to do the same to you.

— Kylie Molen

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