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How to deal with uncooperative suppliers?


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#1 WayneFiorelli

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Posted 03 November 2015 - 07:53 PM

Hello all,

 

I have been having an issue with a supplier of mine in that they refuse to send me any documentation about food safety (COA's, specs, Letter of Guarantee, Food Safety protocols, 3rd party audits, etc.) I have talked to my sales rep, their QA department, and even had their CEO look into it, but they don't seem to care about helping because they make a profit off of us anyway. The problem is that they are the only business I know of that we can buy tea in the quantities we do and we sell over 200 of their products right now which would be quite a lot to make ourselves (we're a tea company and private labeler).

 

My SQF consultant told me I could possibly do a 2nd party audit and I'd be willing to write them a Letter of Guarantee that they can just sign and send back, but I was hoping there was an easier way to get around this issue. Has anyone had a supplier like this? What did you do in the situation? Is there hope out there!?

 

~Wayne

 



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#2 esquef

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Posted 03 November 2015 - 08:51 PM

Hi Wayne,

 

It's not uncommon for suppliers to be slow or unresponsive to the requests you're making. While writing a Letter of Guarantee and simply having them copying and pasting on their letterhead might squeak through, actually going to their facility and conducting a thorough 2nd party audit is the best solution to your problem.

 

The key word above is *thorough*, and one possible consequence is that they don't meet you requirements to be an approved supplier to your company. While that might present some major headaches (since you'd need to find an alternative supplier or suppliers), look at it as a net win since if, in fact, the current supplier has significant food safety issues you'd no doubt be better off cutting them from your Approved Supplier Register. Also keep in mind that FSMA may play into this also, particularly if the supplier is in a country other than the U.S.

 

Good Luck,

esquef



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#3 WayneFiorelli

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 03:49 PM

I was afraid of that. I guess there is no other way around it. I guess my job now is to pester them into giving up some documentation --- or fly from NY to CA to see what they're working with. Maybe take a nice vacation while I'm out there. haha



#4 Sagar_J

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 04:22 PM

Hi Wayne, 

 

IMO second party audit would be a near perfect way to determine the eligibility of the supplier especially if suppliers are local. If the suppliers are international then approval on the basis of food safety documents, third party audit or questionnaire is a more practical solution. Of course much will depend on the risk category of your product.

 

In our case we are low risk product manufacturers and most of our products come from brokers / agents but the raw materials themselves are harvested and packed half way around the world. Since our product is low risk we have traditionally resorted to approving suppliers on GFSI recognized third party food safety certificate from main producer / packer and I sure understand your pain especially when you have to go via agents / brokers and literally plead to them to get all documents to approve your supplier. But things are getting better for us now since last month when we have sent out a strong intention letter to rate suppliers / vendors on various factors like quality, complaints and most importantly turn around time taken by vendors to submit requested documents especially COA. We have mentioned in the letter that for every time a vendor does not provide COA for a consignment, we will deduct certain amount. Moreover based on the aforementioned rating system we analyse who were the top five suppliers on a bi-annual basis and provide this information to procurement so that they can focus more on the top suppliers. Traditionally procurement department and quality department have never been the same page but in the long run if both these departments understand each other and work towards attaining a common goal then it would be so much better. 

 

Hope this helps. 

 

Sagar J. 



#5 JohnWheat

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 04:27 PM

Perhaps we're spoilt here? Supplier doesn't comply with requests or meet compliance requirements doesn't want our business we go elsewhere, its that simple.



#6 Simon

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 07:27 PM

If you don't have the option of threatening them then I agree with the others you have to get over there and do an audit.  That said I don't hold out much hope on them completing any corrective actions to findings.  If they are a critical supplier (and it sounds as though they are) can you and your consultant raise with your CEO that you may be putting your SQF certification at risk if you cannot get this supplier approved.

 

Regards,

Simon


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#7 johnwandzala

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 03:39 PM

Wayne,

 

I had a similar problem recently. I was starting to get real bent outta shape about it, as I can see you are too. After some weeks of stewing in my frustration, I decided I would call them again and see where they were at with my request. Turns out they had sent me what I requested - but they had the wrong email address so I never got it.

 

This supplier has bent over backwards to accomodate my requests now, and quickly. I'm very thankful now that I didn't send them some angry email or anything like that. Sometimes we let our thoughts run wild needlessly.

 

 

John






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