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Supply chain disruptions, challenges, and how to respond
February 22nd 2022

Supply chain disruptions, challenges, and how to respond


You may not have thought about it before. You walk into a retail shop to pick up a pair of new shoes or groceries or you pick up your phone to order that week’s, month’s, and year’s worth of raw material from your supplier. Things you never had to worry about being readily available are delayed, on backorder, or simply unavailable. Headlines dominate the news: “Supply Chain Delays.”


Why are there disruptions in the supply chain?  What’s happening? Part of the answer is the theory that delays are due to a “snowball effect” of amplified disruptions which then compound. The coronavirus pandemic slowed the global supply chain when manufactures suspended work in order to enact safety measures. Despite the promising forecasts from business over the past year, global trade has continued to reduce capacity and has never fully recovered.

In addition to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased globalization has played a major role in the disruption of supply chains in recent months and years. We often think about the benefits of globalization—lower prices, access to more markets—but this age is shedding light on many of its drawbacks. Our experts recently attended a seminar entitled “Business Continuity in times of Disruption” at tthe International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) Pet food conference, in which this topic was explored. This seminar examined complexity of today’s supply chain using a hot tub as an example: A hot tub’s parts traveled 887,776 miles before winding up in someone’s backyard. Parts were contracted and made in multiple countries then came together to one centralized assembly location where the final product was completed. This situation is very common across many industries as businesses look for best quality, price and adapt products over time. However, with so many moving parts involved in the creation of a single product, it’s coming into focus how one delay leads to another and then another and so on.

Risks – Particular to Food Safety and Quality

What you might be overlooking the next time you accept a shipment

Manufacturers now find themselves in an unusual state: you’re unsure about meeting committed deadlines for customers and consumers; relieved when that delayed shipment finally arrives! Eager to move forward with normal business, you unload it and—Wait! What impacts could that delay have had on the Safety and Quality of the product you are receiving? Do you have the right systems and programs in place to ensure your material and ingredients are up to par?

Think about what we know Microbiological and Chemical risks.

Knowledge is key: Understanding your ingredients, products, processes, and suppliers.

Shelf life studies will further your understanding of how your product will age over time with real-time, accelerated and open-package shelf life studies. Matrix-specific methods are used to evaluate the deterioration of quality over time to give you a recommended shelf life for your product.

Reasons to Conduct Shelf Life Studies

  • Determining the shelf-life of a newly launched or R&D product
  • Evaluating the impact of formulation, packaging, process, storage or distribution system changes
  • Re-validating the shelf life claim of current products to assure it stays current.

Shelf Life Study Parameters include, but are not limited to:

  • Microbiological spoilage
  • Lipid oxidation and hydrolysis
  • Moisture migration
  • Nutrient stability
  • Probiotic stability
  • Physical changes (color, texture, viscosity, etc.)
  • Sensory evaluation

Process Validation Studies

Process validation studies are designed to verify your process and safety of your finished product.

  • Thermal and non-thermal process validations
  • Equipment validation studies
  • In-plant validation studies, both domestic and international
  • Novel processing technique evaluations
  • Non-pathogenic surrogate cultures for in-plant validations
  • Efficacy evaluation of antimicrobial treatments.

Three approaches, from simple to complex:

  1. Log Reduction- Inoculated product is processed to determine the effectiveness of a treatment. The    deference in microbial counts between pre and post- treatment samples is calculated to measure the process effectiveness and log-reduction.
  2. Degree of Inactivation- Determination of the D-value where D represents the decimal (log) reduction in counts, to understand the degree of inactivation of your process temperature for any length of time.
  3. Thermal Death Time Studies – Predictability of Lethality- Determination of the D-values at multiple    temperatures to derive a z-value to understand the predictability of lethality for any heating profile.

Supplier Monitoring

In today’s global marketplace, consumers demand assurance that they are purchasing safe and high-quality food products. Wanting the same assurances, a growing number of retailers and manufacturers are requiring suppliers to demonstrate their commitment to safe and quality products through highly recognized global certification schemes, such as those that are benchmarked and recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

What is the Global Food Safety Initiative?

The GFSI is a private organization that oversees and approves different auditing platforms that meet their criteria. This criteria provides a global standard for food safety.

In practice, this means that a food processor or manufacturer who can point to their GFSI-benchmarked certification can effectively and immediately show their existing and potential customers that their plant is operating with a structured, comprehensive, and effective food safety program.

GFSI-Benchmarked Certifications

  • SQF Certification
  • BRC Global Standard for Food
  • BRC Storage and Distribution
  • IFS Logistics
  • FSSC 22000
  • GlobalG.A.P.
  • Freshcare

Looking to the future

Manufacturers must take a hard look at existing operating models—who, what, where and how work gets done. Challenging legacy ways of working and building in more transparency and intelligence across core workforce dimensions will make manufacturers successful. You don’t have to go at this alone. Aligning yourself with the reputable partner is arming yourself with the knowledge and data needed to make timely decisions. A good service partner and robust management systems have been proven business critical needs for managing supply chain disruptions, quality and food safety, brand protection—and, of course, your bottom line.

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