The New Buyer-Supplier Relationship Standard for the Food Service Industry

Kelly Deacon
Kelly Deacon,
End-consumer demands for better traceability, transparency and ingredient quality in the food service industry have never been stronger. As a result, the bar continues to raise for those in the supply chain, requiring a whole new level of flexibility and ingenuity on the back-end to meet these expectations.
The pressure to keep up with market fluctuations and preferences may feel daunting, but it’s important for Procurement teams to remember that by design, they have a network of partners and tools across the entire supply chain to help them keep pace.
Since suppliers are closest to raw materials and a product's origin, they’re in a unique and powerful position to drive product innovation that can trickle new ideas and positive outcomes throughout the rest of the supply chain. As such, buyers are increasingly recognising the supplier’s critical role and are working more proactively and collaboratively with the supply base to come up with innovative solutions to tap into new opportunities that keep them competitive. 
This growing dynamic is creating an evolved buyer-supplier relationship standard characterised by better collaboration, open communication and transparency – putting suppliers in the driving seat of change.
Outperform the competition 
Procurement professionals have increasingly turned to suppliers for valuable marketplace and supply insights. With this expanded industry knowledge, buyers can enhance their product portfolio and gain better brand recognition and loyalty by producing high-quality products that align with consumer expectations. For suppliers, the benefits are clear – they understand what their customers, the buying organisation, wants in a product and can reduce cycle times and lower marketing and sales costs accordingly. 
The best results come from healthy buyer-supplier collaboration. The responsibility to make the partnership successful falls on both parties to openly communicate, share ideas and establish joint KPIs. There are a few steps both parties should keep in mind to facilitate customer-centric, collaborative partnerships:

1. Decide on a strategy with clear KPIs. Buyers and suppliers who actively work together to determine goals that benefit both parties create a mutually beneficial strategy that reflects both parties’ objectives. In most cases, these goals will involve meeting the end-consumer’s desire for more transparency and traceability in the goods they are consuming. 

2. Set straightforward processes. Unnecessarily complex requirements add little value and big headaches to the procurement process. By establishing a clear path from the start, suppliers and buyers will have more clarity throughout a partnership regarding defined roles, objectives and end-results. This doesn’t just set clear expectations for desired outcomes, but allows suppliers to spend more time innovating and less time on redundant processes.

3. Leverage technology. Leveraging technology is a great practice for gaining visibility into all aspects of the network. By utilising the right tools, Procurement can create unprecedented transparency into not only the process but also supplier capabilities and risk and contract details, for example. By combining expertise with technology, buyers and suppliers alike will be equipped with the tools and resources they need to be successful.

Partnering for the sake of product innovation
Collaboration is the new standard for buyer-supplier relationships because no team can operate in a silo, but rather needs the specialised expertise of those around them to keep up in today’s increasingly complex and dynamic procurement and supply chain landscape. Collaboration is no longer something that’s nice-to-have or thoughtful to do, it’s a requirement for staying in business today.
Searching for the right supply partner? Find out how to connect with suppliers in a meaningful way.