Important Information To Include On Any Industrial Food Purchase Order

Posted by Alexa Ketterling

purchase order setupAn order you send to any food ingredient supplier is, at the very least, a gentleman's agreement on both sides. To be able to get just what you're looking for you will need to make sure that you include all the necessary details.

When was the last time you were able to order a shirt on, say, Amazon and you didn't have to specify the size you wanted, color, or your shipping address? You are probably thinking to yourself, never.

Let's begin to look at the different details you need to make sure you are giving your supplier on your PO. In the industrial industry, a purchase order is important, to begin with - it's basically your contract. With any contract, you will want to make sure that you specify in writing the details you have agreed on. You will also want to make sure you've covered everything that could affect your order.

Sometimes the details can be a wide range and you may not naturally include certain information because it doesn't directly affect you. That's why we have created a list of all the information that you should make sure you include when you're putting your orders together. This applies to any industrial food supplier you work with.


Full Product Name

Yes, I understand this may seem pretty obvious but it's a detail that sometimes people miss. There are often many versions of each food so you will want to make sure to clarify exactly what grade or type of product you're buying. For example, don't just write olive oil — indicate the full grade. You will want to write Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Olive Pomace Oil, Refined Olive Oil, etc.

The same thing applies to other oils such as Canola Oil and other fry oils - do you need the high oleic version? Maybe you need non-GMO? Or maybe you need expeller pressed? There are lots of different types, so make sure you are extremely clear and specify exactly the oil you are looking for.


Up-To-Date Price

With commodity products like oils, you'll need to get a price quote each time you order. Why might you ask? Well, commodity pricing changes all the time. So with that being said, you can be pretty sure that costs will have adjusted since your last order unless you have a contract. 

Depending on the supplier you are using, their buying strategy and the type of oil that you are buying, your price may change by the hour or by the week. If you last ordered a few months ago, don’t expect prices to automatically be the same. Commodity markets change all the time and your prices will adjust to match those changes.


Packaging Type

If you are looking for a particular packaging type, make it clear on your order. You will want to list both the type of packaging (example tote, drum, 35 lb. container) as well as the size and material that you are looking for (if there is a variation). For example in regards to drum material you may prefer steel drums vs. plastic or vise versa.

If it isn't indicated on your purchase order, your supplier won't know which kind to choose for you; make sure you specify so it doesn't hold up the packing of your order. Also, if you want any special attachments like valves, pumps or hoses, make sure that you also include that.


Purchase Order Number

To make sure communication is clear, include a purchase order number for that specific order. This becomes particularly important when you have more than one order in with your supplier at a time, or when you are communicating about an old purchase order.

"Remember that one order that we did a couple of months ago when we ordered this and then this happened”? See? Not extremely clear… It’s much easier for all to say, "Remember PO #190808”? Then both parties are certain that they're talking about the same thing.


Requested Delivery Date

Make sure to always include a requested delivery date on your PO. This is the date that you need to have your product delivered to you.

As a food manufacturer, you'll always be planning inventory out in advance based on your demand and your supplier’s lead times.

Of course, it is nice to take your supplier’s lead times into account when you are indicating a requested delivery date but sometimes you may have emergencies. Just list your hopeful delivery date and most production teams (at least the ones that are flexible and sometimes able to work with your needs) will let you know what's realistic given their current schedule.

Keep in mind many suppliers charge a rush fee so you will have to weigh what's more important — saving money or getting the product quickly. Avoid the urge to order your product to deliver ASAP. This is a vague term that can mean different things to different people. Does ASAP mean that you want it to deliver tomorrow or next month? Are you willing to pay a fee to get it ASAP for real? Specific dates are much clearer and more helpful.


Planned Payment Method

List your agreed upon payment method on your PO. If you have credit terms, list the terms and double-check that your order is within your limit.

If you don't have credit extended, discuss the other options for payment and then make sure you indicate which one you have chosen so that your suppliers accounting and production departments can plan and communicate with you appropriately.


Ship To Address

You will want to make sure that you list your ship to address especially if it is different from your bill to address. Also, if your supplier is shipping directly to a customer for you, make sure that you include all of the important shipping contact information like the phone number and a person that they can get in touch with in receiving.


Bill To Address

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Just make sure it's up to date and present.


Indicate Who Is Arranging The Shipping

When preparing your PO, make sure that you indicate who is arranging the shipping. Are you coordinating a pick-up? Do you have all of the information that you will need to be able to do that?

If your supplier does it for you make sure that to indicate that information on your PO. If they've already quoted the shipping to you, you can also include that cost in your total.


Additional Documentation Or Shipping Requirements

This is an important one, as every customer has different requirements for receiving inventory. 

Do you need specific information listed on the label like a reference number or your company name? Do you have shipping requirements like a lift gate or delivery appointment? Does your facility have dock hours?

List all of this pertinent information to make sure that, as your supplier is packing up your products, they are able to include all of the necessary information that will make the process smooth and easy for your receiving team.


Quality Requirements

Make sure you list any quality requirements that you might have for your product. For example, do you need a light color of Pure Olive Oil only? Do you need it to match a particular lot number or flavor profile that you have received in the past? Entering this information will protect you later because you have covered all of your bases by being specific as possible.


Create A Template & Or Use Purchasing Software

This is a lot of information to remember to include on every purchase order.

It's easiest to create a template that you can use again and again. You can create it in a format that works best for you such as purchasing software, word, excel or a canned email.

Topics: Food Manufacturing, Shipping & Logistics, Prices & Saving Money, Quality Control, Suppliers, Small Businesses Advice, Purchasing & Procurement, Business & Leadership, Food Service



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