DakotaMB (Milling and Blending) Custom milling, blending and toasting for the baking and food industries

The Questions Bakeries Must Ask Their Ingredient Suppliers

Loaf of wheat bread and grain

It’s an unprecedented time in the baking industry, and trust us when we say that – we’ve been around for 300 years! Demand for our industry’s products has never been higher, but sourcing some of the core ingredients to make those products has never been harder. For example, the sunflower oil industry has almost completely collapsed due to the war in Ukraine. Do you know how many food products have sunflower oil in them?

It’s a challenging environment for bakers, but also a good reminder of the value of a great ingredient supplier relationship. As you scan through your list of ingredient suppliers, how many of them can you say you have a great relationship with? It should be all of them, as great relationships are key to overcoming challenging economic environments.

At DakotaMB, we put a primary importance on forming great relationships with our customers. However, what defines a great relationship? It’s more than an occasional steak dinner and round of golf. Those things are nice, but what truly makes an impact on a bakery’s success is open lines of communication, industry knowledge and R&D support.

We’ve developed a list of questions that every bakery should be asking its ingredient suppliers. How an ingredient supplier answers these questions will help you determine if they are a great partner that will contribute to your bakery’s success regardless of the economic environment.

How “in tune” are you with the global supply chain logistics of the ingredients you’re providing our bakery?

If we had written this blog three years ago, this question would not have been on our list. Times change quickly. Shortages are a reality in today’s marketplace, and every bakery should be having regular conversations with their suppliers about how the supply chain issues are impacting business today and could potentially impact business in the short- and long-term future.

Shortages are almost inevitable, but suppliers who have their finger on the pulse of global supply chain logistics will be able to help bakeries better overcome these obstacles. We’ve been in the baking industry for 300 years and the milling industry since 1969. Our experience in the domestic and global supply chain logistics has been of great value to our customers as the industry as a whole navigates these challenges.

What’s your availability to talk?

This seems like a no-brainer, but how many of your ingredient suppliers do you actually speak with? Email is convenient and important, but nothing beats a phone call when it comes to aligning with your ingredient supplier on key issues and conversations.

Can you offer any product development support?

An ingredient supplier who offers R&D assistance is like an extension of your team that doesn’t hit the bottom line. A thriving relationship brings new ideas to the table and perhaps inspiration for new product development. Our product development support team works with bakeries and food manufacturers to develop new product formulations. We bring extensive experience in whole grain ingredients, blends and toasted ingredients to every bakery we work with.

Do you have experience helping bakeries scale up products from the bench to the production line?

This is a big one, as it’s one thing to help a bakery develop a product and it’s a completely different thing to help them scale production up to automated manufacturing. By having a great relationship with your ingredient supplier, bakers can ensure a smooth transition from the R&D bench to full production.

Do you have custom capabilities?

The baking industry, and food industry in general, is extremely competitive as online shopping has opened up sales avenues with minimal barriers to entry. Every new product has to stand out, and that often requires custom ingredient formulations. At DakotaMB, most of our products are custom milled or custom blended. We work daily with our customers to develop custom blends and reformulation assistance to improve our customers’ existing products.

A good partner is more than a supplier of ingredients. A great relationship is needed to thrive in the good times and weather the storm in a challenging environment. The quality of our bakery, plant and logistical support teams ensures the success of our client relationships. If you’re interested in forming a great relationship with DakotaMB, contact us.

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