As a purchaser of bulk oil ingredients and olive oils, you will find there are some expectations that should be set forth to your oil supplier.
Your supplier should always — no matter what — consider your company needs and goals FIRST and work to guide you to both the best ingredient for your food product, as well as the best choices for packaging, contracting, and other supply chain details. Overall, it should always be a mutually beneficial business agreement. You should feel like you won a great fit for a long term partner!
Unfortunately, there are many suppliers in the market today that can be unaccountable or let their own desires guide their business decisions. And this doesn’t just happen in the oil industry! Some of the worst things you may see would be if your supplier ignores you, they mis-ship product or quantities, if they don’t communicate on backorders, or — worst of all — if they promote adulterating or false labeling to be able to offer you a cheaper price just to win your business. Working with a supplier like that, you’ll ultimately lose out in the long run.
While you’re in the midst of your vendor search, keep the following list of benefits in mind that you absolutely should have in a long-term supply chain partnership.
Things Your Supplier Should Provide
Excellent Customer Service
If you have questions, someone should be able to help answer them, and weigh through the pros and cons of whatever you may be deciding. Orders should be taken and confirmed quickly. Overall, you should get responsiveness from a team of people that are there to help you.
Easy and Fast Shipping
If you’ve never dealt with LTL freight shipping before, you shouldn’t be expected to learn. Some suppliers require that you take care of all of your own bulk shipping, which can be rather overwhelming for a new or small food business. Make sure that you work with someone who can coordinate the shipping for you, and provide updates along the way.
Did you know that freight shipments of a few pallets or more can be tracked just like a normal UPS or FedEx shipment can be? You shouldn’t be scrambling to find out if your order shipped, when it went out and when it can be delivered. All of that information should be provided to you automatically!
Fast Order Turnaround
In the world of Amazon Prime, we know the importance of fast turn-around time. Remember that bulk shipments are often custom packed for each manufacturer, so you’ll have to plan in a reasonable lead time. However, you shouldn’t be waiting around for months, especially without good communication from your vendor!
Immediate Order Response
If you place an order, you should know that it’s been received and is in their system. Confirmations are the norm now — expect more than just an email back!
Oil authenticity is so important. It’s not enough just to receive your supplier’s Certificate of Analysis. Most likely this COA was copied from their supplier, and oil could have easily been adulterated between the original lab overseas and it’s trip to the US. After all, you have no idea how many layers there may be between the tree and you.
How can you know what you’re getting is good quality? It’s sometimes hard, unless you are sending the oil for testing yourself. What you can do, however, is ask to see the lab results from a 3rd party, and ask to learn more about your suppliers testing program internally. This will tell you how important quality control is to them, and what their testing protocols are.
Centra Foods, for example, sends every lot of olive oil for secondary lab testing here in the US. This ensures that every lot of oil we sell is authentic, and makes sure that you’ll never receive a lot that doesn’t meet the objective standards for that grade. It also allows us to keep everyone in the supply chain back to the tree honest and open. This testing program also ensures that you have the most up-to-date test results. To learn more about our testing program, click here.
Lastly, be wary of prices that are significantly lower than other suppliers are offering. Most suppliers’ prices live around the same “ballpark” — if you’re getting significantly lower costs, ask yourself (or your supplier outright) exactly why and how this is possible.
If you’re concerned about what you’re actually getting, send it out for secondary lab testing! It’s better (and cheaper) to know for sure so that you can avoid any FDA issues, product recalls or other quality concerns.