It is not possible to obtain a quality product without the raw material and the inputs also having quality. This is an old and extremely true saying within the food industry.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace with consumers constantly changing their eating habits, carefully choosing every detail of production makes all the difference in strategic terms.
This also applies to the animal origin product chain, especially in the choice of inputs and ingredients for animal nutrition, an essential factor in this production chain.
That is why it is fundamental to know how to choose suppliers of raw materials, inputs and ingredients. But, among so many possibilities, how to choose the right supplier?
A new consumer. A new market. A new quality standard
Many modern consumers, either for health-related issues or ideological issues, decreased or completely eliminated the consumption of products of animal origin from their diets.
This type of consumer even understands this philosophy beyond food, when choosing clothes that do not contain leather or skin in its composition and cosmetics that have not been tested on animals. This change affects not only the technical characteristics of a product, be it food, cosmetic or any other segment.
It also affects the concern of companies with their reputations and the more transparent communication of the type of practices that are performed to obtain their products.
Labels aimed at animal welfare, which carry information such as “cruelty-free”, “not tested on animals”, “free breeding”, among others, influence the purchasing decisions of the so-called conscious consumers.These consumers are even aware about the type of formulation that the feed of their pets have.
This way, those who work in this segment now need to be concerned about the origin of each ingredient and input that will be part of the final product.
Technological and nutritional characteristics remain extremely important in defining whether a product has quality or not. However, w ithin this new consumption scenario, other items began to define the quality of products of animal origin, such as:
- Food safety: absence of physical, chemical and biological contaminants;
- Sanitary security: to avoid or reduce the risk of spreading diseases;
- Animal welfare in meat production;
- Sustainability: search for production processes that do not harm the environment;
- Guaranteeing the quality of life of rural workers.
The concern with sanitary security
Regarding the issue of sanitary security, a very modern example illustrates how this scenario can affect even important economic sectors of a country.
African swine fever it’s a disease that is decimating pig herds in China. One third of China’s pigs may disappear in the year 2019 due to this disease, which accounts for approximately 200 million animals.
The virus that causes this fever does not attack humans, but is deadly to pigs and has no form of combat so far. It has already spread to other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia.
A major problem for the contingency of this virus in China’s pig herds is the fragmentation of this type of agribusiness in this Asian country.
The lack of traceability of these hundreds of small farmers make up this scenario and it is not possible to know in fact whether they have the knowledge and apply technologies to take the necessary biosecurity measures.
In addition, the virus is able to survive in pork products for months, therefore, it is likely to be reintroduced by accident.
Given this, the Chinese agribusiness sector is currently affected, unable to meet the demand for pork that the country has, as well as the impossibility of exportation due to the risk of contaminating the herds of other countries.
This fact exposes the need for strict control over the sanitation of the herds. This control is key to having a functional and profitable production chain. When this doesn’t happen, disasters can take on regrettable proportions, as the case of China’s pig herd teaches us.
Emphasis on quality control
It seems redundant to say that the quality control is one of the most important positions in any type of business. When selecting a supplier, you need to look for companies that have a strict quality control and that operate to minimize the chances of failure. This is the first step in building a trusting relationship between the supplier and the contracting company.
Quality control must have a good professional, with adequate training, to lead this sector. This professional will be responsible for developing the quality control plan, implementing it and monitoring its execution.
All implemented protocols should be written in an easy and accessible way, without leaving space for doubt and that everyone can understand.
In addition, all processes must have thorough records so that faults can be easily tracked and the cause of problems can be found and combated in an effective way.
Standardization, certification and traceability: tools to ensure quality
When we talk about standardization, we are referring to the pre-established procedures and standards for production processes, control of raw materials and inputs, pre-slaughter management, among other factors ranging from the selection of raw materials to the final product.
Standardization is fundamental to ensure information flow, traceability and effective communication between all links in a production chain.
Thinking specifically on the products, standardization is used as a tool to secure part of the harmlessness and nutritional value of the food.
To achieve what has been established in the standards and norms, one can use quality tools such as good production and manufacturing practices, hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and ISOs (International Standardization Organization).
The ISO 22000 established in 2005, for example, stipulates a complex method of managing practices of food safety, ranging from raw materials, ingredients and inputs to the marketing of final products.
But, how to know if a supplier follows the necessary standardizations?
This is why certifications exist, which are nothing more than the guarantee that the product being marketed has the quality claimed on the label.
This certification must be performed by a third party, which can be either governmental or private, and benefits both the supplier company, which has an instrument to guarantee the quality of what it is offering, as well as the company that is purchasing the product.
Some examples of certification agencies we can name:
- GLOBAL G.A.P: certifies good practices for agricultural products to ensure that they are safe and sustainable worldwide;
- PAACO: focused on the certification of animal welfare practices for the product chain of animal origin.
Another key concept for qualifying a supplier is traceability. Through this mechanism, it is possible to identify the origin of a product, from the field until the last processes within the factory. This system helps to monitor all stages and all inputs of a production chain.
This way, possible problems that may occur along the production chain can be solved in a faster way, since traceability makes it possible to have a complete history of the product, from the raw material and its components to its distribution. In other words, traceability is a great way to ensure the quality and transparency of inputs.
Supplier selection checklist
Given all the information presented, we can say that to make a good supplier selection, it is important to observe the aspects below:
- The raw material used follows international quality standards;
- The production chain is integrated, with all links following the necessary technical criteria;
- Animal welfare standards are followed, with animals raised and treated without stress until the end of the production chain;
- The health standards of the herd are followed;
- The company is certified for quality control tools;
- The company has a relationship of partnership and respect with the rural workers;
- The company works to minimize or eliminate the environmental damage that may be caused during its production processes;
- The inputs to be acquired have passed through the physical and chemical analysis (protein, fat, moisture, ash), biological (Salmonella) and sensory (color, odor, particle size, the presence of foreign objects).
The qualification of suppliers is not a simple process. Many are the factors that must be evaluated, considering the need for a systemic view, that considers everything from the technical factors involved to the concern with the values and principles related to the company’s reputation.