How We Qualify Organic Ingredient Suppliers at foodcircle

Explore the processes that go into recruiting, qualifying, onboarding and requalifying suppliers from start to finish.

Table of Contents

  1. Recruiting New Suppliers
  2. Parameters for New Suppliers
  3. How We Onboard Suppliers
  4. How We Requalify Suppliers

At foodcircle, we are deeply committed to sourcing the highest quality organic ingredients from trusted suppliers worldwide. With hundreds, if not thousands, of suppliers to choose from, navigating this highly competitive international market landscape can be daunting, not to mention time-consuming. Especially for startups and small to mid-level food or cosmetics manufacturers whose resources are limited than their large, corporate counterparts. 

Our skilled team of Sales Professionals and Business Development Managers is dedicated to selecting, vetting and onboarding the industry’s top suppliers to our digital procurement platform. In doing so, we make the wholesale market more accessible, transparent and affordable for manufacturers. Lower MOQs, 90-day payment plans and fast deliveries are just some of the perks we offer in our effort to bring value to the entire food supply chain. 

Recruiting New Suppliers 

Since we first opened our (virtual) doors back in 2018, we have dedicated substantial resources to continuously building, expanding and strengthening our network of organic ingredient producers, suppliers, traders and brokers. 

Not only does our team regularly attend Europe’s top trade shows, such as BIOFACH,  to scout potential partners, but we also rely on recommendations from within our very own customer base. Trust, quality and pricing are amongst the top criteria we look for.

"When looking for new partners, our primary focus is always on quality! Only when we can ensure that suppliers meet our strict quality standards, with regard to taste and nutritional value as well as service and deliverables, do we offer them a place in our portfolio." - Paula Herrero, Business Development Manager at foodcircle

Occasionally, we also receive requests from customers for products that are highly specialised and thus not yet featured in our portfolio. In these instances, we utilise our experience and network to research more niche suppliers to add to our portfolio. Since our founding, we have also been working to steadily expand our portfolio to cater to non-food markets, such as plant-based oils for soaps and cosmetics. This has created new opportunities for collaboration and sourcing.

If you are a supplier interested in digitising your clients' ingredient and procurement processes, please register here for free to get access to our services.

Parameters for New Suppliers

In order for our team to consider adding a new supplier to our dashboard, they must meet the following criteria:

  • Sell one or more ingredients that we are looking for in the respective volumes that match our clients’ needs (some suppliers have very high MOQs, such as 10 tons, which is not relevant to the majority of our customer base).

  • Have stock/a warehouse in the EU and a EU Organic certified body who would address the invoicing on their behalf (i.e. a representative party).

  • Current European organic certification (if certification is pending, we will wait to consider them until the certification has been approved).

Of course, this is only the beginning. If these requirements are met, our team will likely then request to review product samples, product specs and analyses to get a comprehensive understanding of the product(s) at hand. Assuming the parameters (e.g. origin, variants, organoleptic properties, chemical/physical properties and nutritional properties) for that specific product are met, the supplier will then be invited to be onboarded as an official foodcircle supplier.

How We Onboard Suppliers

  1. Live Dashboard Demo

    1. Our ever-evolving list of services currently includes a state-of-the-art supplier dashboard, which allows suppliers to build their unique portfolios in our backend. To kick off our collaborative efforts, one of our Business Development Managers schedules a (remote) onboarding session which includes a live demo of our platform. 

    2. Over the years, we have learned that this personalised training as the beginning of the process is critical in reducing time and     effort on both ends later on. They are always provided with opportunities to ask questions and can request further support via  our instant messaging function or schedule one-on-one calls.

  2. Live Inquiries Demo

    1. To better understand how customers will be given access to their products, we also onboard suppliers onto our Inquiries Tool, which is where requests for quotes and samples come in.

  3. Access to Supplier Dashboard

    1. Once suppliers are empowered to navigate the dashboard independently, they are then given full access to their portfolio’s       backend and can start building their personal product portfolio.

    2. We encourage them to provide as many details as possible (e.g. pricing, certificates etc.) to increase their chances of receiving customer inquiries down the line.


How We Requalify Suppliers

Essentially, there are two scenarios in which we review existing suppliers’ products and portfolios: 

  1. Because we are audited annually, we take this opportunity to reach out to all our suppliers in one go and request that they resubmit  any updated information or documentation, such as certificates.

  2. Some suppliers proactively provide us with these updates throughout the year, in which case they are requalified when they hand in  their new documentation.

Note: At foodcircle, we foster reliable and transparent relationships with a small group of select suppliers. On very rare occasions, we make the decision to end a contract with a supplier. This happens if a supplier is no longer able to procure the required documentation/certification, i.e. no longer meet certain product quality standards. Similarly, the event that suppliers’ response times do not live up to our service standards (e.g. for order approvals, CoA, releasing of goods, shipping/pick-up dates), or do not show a meaningful commitment to our customers, we also reconsider our partnership.

"Since we strive to offer our customers the best possible service and digital order management experience, we certainly expect the same level of professionalism and from our suppliers. Those who don’t deliver, don’t make the cut. It’s that simple." - Jérôme Castellano, Head of Sales at foodcircle

Whether you are a foodcircle customer, supplier or follower, we hope that this has provided transparency around some of our in-house processes. If you are a customer interested in sourcing from foodcircle, please register here for free. If you are a supplier, interested in partnering with us, please register here for free.

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