It’s commonly accepted that work environments encouraging collaboration perform better overall. Collaborative research environments are higher performing and ultimately have higher success rates than those with independent thinkers.
While collaboration among colleagues within an organization clearly improves outcomes, food and beverage manufacturers that embrace external collaboration with their ingredient supply chain partners can gain an even more significant competitive advantage.
Collaborating is easier and more cost-effective than ever due to interactive video conferencing apps, email, phone and other technologies. Of course, in-person workshops and collaboration sessions are helpful when possible. But what can food manufacturers expect from these interactions?
What Does External Collaboration Look Like?
Establishing a network of collaborative external partners opens a world of possibilities. However, some established companies in the food manufacturing industry, especially larger ones, are accustomed to going it alone and figuring things out on their own. That could be a mistake, according to research.
Resource sharing between organizations is critical in the ideation and innovation process. Generating innovation within the boundaries of a single department or company is no longer enough; it needs to also take place through collaboration with others in your supply chain.
To gauge how collaborative your ingredient supplier is, consider asking the following questions:
- Will your food scientists visit our lab or manufacturing facility to perfect a formulation using our systems?
- Will you help us troubleshoot why our formula is separating or has a poor texture?
- Do you offer innovation sessions to help us come up with new products or trending flavor profiles backed by market share data?
- Can you provide a cost savings analysis specific to a formulation?
As a standard practice, you’ll want to have a written non-disclosure agreement to protect any proprietary trade secrets and confidential information. Don’t be afraid to ask whether your ingredient supplier can lend the expertise of their applications, R&D, quality assurance or logistics team. Doing so will not only help your business thrive, it may actually help it survive in an increasingly competitive landscape where shifting consumer behaviors drive the need to innovate.
RELATED: Shifting Consumer Behaviors Resulting from COVID-19
As the food industry changes before our eyes, the need for food manufacturers to collaborate with ingredient suppliers who can double as application consultants is more important than ever. Collectively, you can obtain greater results than can be achieved independently, and can experience the following benefits.
1. Information Sharing of Food Industry Knowledge
Each organization benefits from the pooled knowledge, expertise and years of experience of its employees, and team members bring fresh perspectives based on their personal and professional backgrounds. An important part of supply chain management is also managing effective collaboration opportunities with each ingredient partner.
Combining the wisdom of multiple experts from your company and those of your ingredient suppliers — in addition to their collective pool of resources — can help a company learn about similar challenges that other manufacturers face. Chances are, they’ve seen it all and can help overcome quality control and application issues that may have once seemed insurmountable.
2. Improved Speed to Market
Leveraging the knowledge of multiple sources allows organizations to make decisions faster and react to market needs and trends more quickly. Your ingredients supplier should have its own team of food scientists who thoroughly understand the properties and functionality of the products they offer. They’ll also know how those ingredients will perform in various applications and production processes based on past experience.
Working directly with your ingredient supplier can eliminate wasted time researching and trying to figure out if an ingredient will perform well in your application, improving production timelines.
For example, are you reformulating a creamy sauce or soup and want to find ways to reduce the use of heavy cream or fats? The challenge lies in maintaining texture and original taste profiles. A true partner will quickly get to work in their own laboratories. They’ll determine proper ratios, formulation options, shear requirements, optimal temperatures, and identify potential roadblocks to begin offering solutions.
3. Reduced Product Development Costs
Intuitively, we know that collaboration saves time and, in business, time is money. Minimizing time spent in product development can save thousands in labor costs alone. An innovative ingredient partner will also look for ways to reduce ingredient costs that may not have been on a food manufacturer’s radar.
For example, working with a supplier that provides shelf-stable alternatives for refrigerated dairy products or eggs can significantly reduce spoilage. Additionally, it reduces administrative labor costs associated with compliance requirements for fresh ingredients. An innovative consultant will find ways to reduce overall production costs and not simply focus on a single solution.
4. Long-term Relationships
As you continue to collaborate over time, the relationships you form with your ingredient supplier’s application consultants will become symbiotic. When new advancements, trends or innovations occur in the food industry, it will be a natural response to share those findings with each other (and capitalize on them).
An applications consultant who has a true partner mindset will keep your goals and potential challenges top-of-mind. When a new advancement is made that could potentially improve your products, you’ll be among the first to know. Ultimately, you’ll likely advance your position in the marketplace and experience added cost-savings.
At Grande Custom Ingredients Group, we do more than just supply quality whey protein ingredients to replace dairy and eggs. Our team of food scientists eagerly anticipate opportunities to help food manufacturers perfect their formulations and work hard to find the best solutions possible to save you time and money.
See how this collaborative approach to overcoming application challenges can benefit your organization. When researching and developing a new food product or reformulating an existing one, reach out to us as early in the process as possible for a free consultation. Simply click the link below.