Resourceful bakers doing their best to survive supply chain problems have turned to a number of solutions. It’s never been more critical to be agile as problems arise.
“You just can’t have enough of a contingency plan right now, and I think that’s going to continue,” said Mark Hotze, vice president, North America, Corbion, and former BEMA chairman. “And I think the Aha! moment for all of us in the industry both with my suppliers and how I am as a supplier to my customer is, ‘What is security of supply worth? And what are these relationships with your suppliers?’ ”
Partnerships are crucial during these times, and communicating with suppliers and customers is important.
“To navigate these issues, bakers should continue to work with their current suppliers while also maintaining a network of secondary suppliers as a backup in case there is a disruption in supply,” said David Bauman, food safety professional, AIB International. “Today, they should also develop a list of other suppliers for when they need a backup to the backup.”
But seeking out secondary suppliers can be tricky when companies are struggling to provide for their existing customers. When two shipments of starch went missing with no explanation at Rocky Mountain Pies, Par Grandinetti, president of the Salt Lake City-based company, was in short supply and discovered that his supplier was missing two ingredients to make it. He reached out to other suppliers, but they couldn’t help.
“We had to emergency ship, pay extra for the freight to get it here so we don’t stop operations,” he said. “Now we’re doing R&D on the fly because it cooks different. Without the experience we’ve had, we wouldn’t have been able to do that.”
It’s situations like this that companies want to avoid. That’s why bad news needs to travel fast, Mr. Hotze said.
“Nobody likes to tell a customer they’re not going to get what they want or I have to delay an order because an air freighted shipment didn’t show up in time,” he said. “But those are the most important conversations to have because the quicker you can have those, the quicker your customers can start planning for what they need to do for next steps.”
He said Corbion’s R&D and technical service teams have been busy helping customers reformulate and adjust as shortages arise.
Other resources for bakers include an ABA toolkit that helps members communicate with customers about issues they’re facing, and ABA’s Commodity and Agricultural Policy Professional group, which is active in sharing concerns and strategies with members.
It’s clear that the ingredient supply chain is stressed, and experts believe that problems will persist into the first half of 2022 and even longer for some issues. But companies that foster strong relationships with partners and do their best to adjust to shortages as quickly as possible are the ones who will weather the storm.
This article is an excerpt from the November 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Supply Chain, click here.