Archive for December, 2017

Shipping Lanes and the Fuel-In/Fuel-Out Debate!

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

 

Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archives

Managing your freight/shipping lanes is a complex process.  There are so many factors that must be taken into account.  Even then, when you have gone through all of the analysis and created projection models and spreadsheets you are still left at the mercy of weather, sales increases and declines and, of course, any possible factor that could influence the price of oil.

Because this last item represents up to 35% of a carriers charge to you, it is one that many companies take very seriously and invest great amounts of time and money in order to help them control.  Some companies take the approach of locking a fuel rate into their cost for as long as they can to help protect against increases.  Many other companies have negotiated their base rates and keep the fluctuations of fuel separate, with controls placed around the formula used to calculate it. Today we will be looking at the pros and cons of both the Fuel-In and Fuel-Out methods.

Fuel-In – Fuel-In strategies are founded on having a final complete rate inclusive of fuel costs.  This is nice for companies who want a fuel cost method that is easy to manage, because the cost of each shipment for the negotiated period should always be the same.  Typically this method will either be re-negotiated at pre-fined intervals, or tied to an oil/fuel related index with language to cap how much the rate can increase or decrease.

While this strategy can be used to help protect a company during periods of time when fuel prices are rapidly increasing, it usually leads to higher overall rates for each negotiated period.  Without the flexibility to adjust with the average cost of fuel, vendors will generally error on the side that protects themselves and deliver higher than normal rates in their proposal.

Fuel-Out – Fuel-Out methods usually include a fuel surcharge that is based on some pre-defined fuel index such as the commonly used U.S. Department of Energy National Fuel Average price.  Using the agreed upon price, most formulas will subject a “trigger” amount which is the rate of fuel above which carriers begin to include the surcharge.  Typically this rate will be between $1.20 and $1.25 per gallon.  This amount is subtracted from the average fuel price and then divided by an agreed upon Miles Per Gallon rate (usually 5 or 6 MPG) which leaves the surcharge per mile charged.

Although this means that the price of shipments can fluctuate more often and that companies aren’t protected against a dramatic increase in fuel like the Fuel-In method, they will be able to take advantage of decreases in fuel that the method above doesn’t always allow.  The other advantage with this method is that it allows companies to get much more competitive base rates from carriers who know their fuel costs will be allowed to adjust the changing costs of fuel.

For more information about how we can assist with sourcing your freight lanes, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.

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On the Twelve Days of e-Procurement Christmas.

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

 

Todays post is a holiday favorite by our CEO from our SafeSourcing Archives.

  1. On the first day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, a streamlined procurement process.
  2. On the second day of Christmas our e-service provider gave to us, more suppliers to source our goods from.
  3. On the third day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, pricing that works for smallest categories..
  4. On the fourth day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, consistent and customized product specifications.
  5. On the fifth day of Christmas our e-procurement service supplier gave to us, more time for other priorities.
  6. On the sixth day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, improved quality in our products.
  7. On the seventh day of Christmas our e-procurement service supplier gave to us, better supplier education.
  8. On the eighth day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, a simple award of business process.
  9. On the ninth day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, support for a better carbon footprint.
  10. On the tenth day of Christmas our e-procurement service supplier gave to us, total category e-procurement.
  11. On the eleventh day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, safer products for our customers and planet.
  12. On the twelfth day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, a sustainable e-procurement process and improved corporate net earnings.

Now, ask yourself if all of these goals are accomplished on your company’s behalf by your present e-procurement service provider. If n0t, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager. Click CONTACT US!

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Continued best wishes for a Merry Christmas  the rest of the Happy Holiday Season.

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You can procure anything, including Candy Canes Part IV!

Monday, December 11th, 2017

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Inc. Archives

What does it take to make a candy cane, package it, market it, and distribution? All of these involve procurement. Today, the candy cane makes up a significant amount of the $1.4 billion Christmas candy market. In fact, billions of candy canes are made and consumed each year.

We have learned the history of the candy cane in part 1 and what ingredients are needed to make candy canes and how to procure the raw ingredients in part 2, and yesterday we learned how to make a candy cane and package it. Today we will cover how to market your product and how SafeSourcing can help you.

How to market your candy canes?

There are multiple companies out there who will help you in your areas of packaging, production and marketing. These companies can handle all of these areas in house for you or you can hire each area out individually. As with purchasing or procuring anything it is best to do your research.

Typically using a company who serves all your needs in house will be the most cost effective, however it is still worth running a request for proposal to find out who they are, who their current clients are, areas of service they can provide, examples of product they have created, a prototype of an idea for your product, their solution on how to market your product, and a pricing model. Even with this helpful tool, it is still beneficial to interview the company.

An in house company should be able to provide at a minimum:

Brand management:
o Data Management
o Project Management
Printer
Color Lab
Artwork
Proofing
Prepress
Brand Protection

In addition to having the best product, best packaging, and best marketing you need to have the basic business 101 logic to selling your product according toan article in entrepreneur.com

Get the correct buyer: One of your biggest challenges is finding the right buyer within a large organization, so do your homework. If you’re experiencing roadblocks, consider hiring a distributor or manufacturer’s rep who already has established relationships in your industry.
Be prepared: Develop a presentation and have professional-looking sell sheets ready. Your product should also have packaging that’s ready to go.
Know your target: Understand what products they already carry and how yours will fit in. Don’t waste your time pitching to a retailer who’s unlikely to carry your product.
Take advantage of special programs: Some mass retailers, such as Wal-Mart, have local purchase programs that give managers authority to try local items. And other retailers may have different initiatives, such as minority business programs.
Be patient: It can take up to a year or longer before you see your product on store shelves, so don’t get frustrated. And if the final answer is no, try to turn it into a learning experience.

Finally, remember there are other sales channels besides the traditional brick-and-mortar retail store. Catalogs, TV shopping networks and online stores can also be excellent methods to enable you to learn how to market a product online.

SafeSourcing, Inc. can help you source your packaging, production, and prepress services, create and run a Request for Proposal and compress the suppliers pricing by running a Request for Quote. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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You can procure anything, including Candy Canes Part III!

Friday, December 8th, 2017

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Inc. Archives

What does it take to make a candy cane, package it, market it, and distribution? All of these involve procurement. Today, the candy cane makes up a significant amount of the $1.4 billion Christmas candy market. In fact, billions of candy canes are made and consumed each year.

We have learned the history of the candy cane in part 1 and what ingredients are needed to make candy canes and how to procure the raw ingredients. Today we learn how to make a candy cane and package it.

How are candy canes manufactured and packaged from madehow.com

1. The first step of production involves blending the ingredients together in a large vessel. Typically, a stainless steel kettle is used that is equipped with automatic mixers. Ingredients can be poured or pumped into the batch by workers known as compounders. At this step, the water, sugar, corn syrup, and other processing ingredients are combined. They are then heated to over 300°F (141.5°C) and allowed to cook until they form amber liquid.
2. While it is still hot, the sugar mixture is poured on water-cooled tables. The candy cools slightly and is sent to the working machines. These devices are equipped with arms that stretch the candy repeatedly until it looks silky white.
3. While the candy is being stretched, a line worker adds the proper amount of flavoring. Also, coloring may be added at this point.
4. Another worker then takes a large portion (95 lb [43 kg]) of the warm candy and forms it into a loaf. Part of the loaf is put off to the side, dyed, and cut into strips. For the traditional candy cane, this portion is dyed red. It will become the red stripes in the final product. The 4 in-long (10 cm) red strips are then pressed at set intervals into the white loaf.
5. The loaf can then be sent to the extruder machines to convert it into a candy cane. The loaf passes through the extruder and comes out the other side on a conveyor as a long strand of candy. The strand runs under cutters that slice it at set intervals to produce individual candies. They are then passed through a device that bends the candy. Since the candy is still slightly warm it can still be shaped as desired. Some extruders can handle over 2,000 lb (907 kg) of candy an hour.
6. After the candy cane is formed, it is put into its packaging. Some manufacturers wrap the candy cane in a clear plastic. This is done right as it is exiting the extruder. The plastic is then wrapped around the candy cane and sealed by a heat sealer.
7. In most instances, a set amount of candy canes are collected and boxed in secondary packaging. These boxes are passed through a shrink-wrap machine and sealed. This extra layer of packaging ensures that no moisture damages the product. The boxes are then put into shipping containers, put on pallets, loaded on trucks, and delivered to stores around the country.

Quality control is an integral part of all candy production. The first phase of control begins with tests on the incoming ingredients. Prior to use, lab technicians test ingredients to ensure they meet company specifications. Sensory evaluations are done on characteristics such as appearance, color, odor, and flavor. Other physical and chemical characteristics may also be tested such as liquid viscosity, solid particle size, and moisture content. Manufacturers depend on these tests to ensure that the ingredients used will produce a consistent batch of candy canes.

The next phase of quality control is done on the candy cane paste. This includes pH, viscosity, appearance, and taste testing. During production, quality control technicians check physical aspects of the extruded candy. A comparison method is typically used. In this method, the newly made product is compared to an established standard. For example, the flavor of a randomly sampled candy cane may be compared to a standard candy cane produced at an early time. Some manufacturers employ professional sensory panelists. These people are specially trained to notice small differences in tactile, taste, and appearance properties. Instrumental tests that have been developed by the confectionery industry over the years may also be used.The process of making candy canes can be done on a much smaller level at home or in the instructions above on a large scale.

In the large scale, items to be purchased or procured would be the candy kettles, stainless steel tables, working machines, extruder, conveyors, cutters, plastic wrap machine, heat sealer, various types of cardboard, shipping containers, pallets and hand pallet jacks as well as fork lifts. In addition, you can procure hiring services of standard and seasonal workers, fork lift drivers and temporary delivery truck drivers, janitorial/sanitation workers, certified engineers and lab technicians and quality control supervisors.

SafeSourcing, Inc. can help you source your manufacturing goods and services, create and run a Request for Proposal and compress the suppliers pricing by running a Request for Quote. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Tomorrow we will discuss how to market candy canes and how SafeSourcing can help in this area.

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You can procure anything, including Candy Canes Part II!

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Inc Archives.

What does it take to make a candy cane, package it, market it, and distribution? All of these involve procurement. Today, the candy cane makes up a significant amount of the $1.4 billion Christmas candy market. In fact, billions of candy canes are made and consumed each year.

What raw materials are included to make candy canes from madehow.com

Confectioners have steadily refined candy cane recipes and production methods. By incorporating new information about the characteristics of ingredients and food production processes, they have been able to make candy cane manufacturing an efficient process. The raw materials used to make candy canes are specifically chosen to produce the appropriate texture, taste, and appearance. Sweeteners are the primary ingredients, but recipes also call for water, processing ingredients, colorants, and flavorings.

Candy canes are primarily made up of sugar. When sugar (sucrose) is refined, it is typically provided as tiny grains or crystals. It is derived from beet and cane sugars. The sugar used in candy cane manufacture must be of high quality so that the proper texture and structure will be achieved. It is the unique physical and chemical characteristics of sugar that makes formation possible. When sugar is heated, it melts and becomes a workable syrup. The syrup can be manipulated, rolled, and fashioned. As it cools, the syrup becomes thicker and begins to hold its shape. When the candy is completely cooled, the sugar crystals remain together and form the solid candy cane.

Corn syrup is also used to produce candy canes. It is a modified form of starch, and like sugar it provides a sweet flavor. When it is mixed with the sugar, it inhibits the natural tendency of sugar to crystallize. Crystallization would result in a grainy appearance and a brittle structure. Corn syrup has the added effect of making the sugar concoction more opaque. Without the corn syrup and other ingredients, the candy would be transparent. The corn syrup also helps to control moisture retention and limits microbial spoilage. Beyond sugar and corn syrup, other sweeteners are sometimes incorporated into the candy cane recipe. These may include glucose syrups, molasses, or other crude sugars. Some low calorie candy cane recipes may incorporate artificial sweeteners like aspartame.

Certain ingredients are put in the candy cane recipe to aid in production. To dilute the sugar and make it workable, water is used. During the manufacturing process the water is steadily boiled off, and the end product has much less water than what it started with. Another processing ingredient is cream of tartar. This compound has the effect of producing air bubbles that help expand the sugar loaf and make it more stable. Salt also helps to adjust the chemical characteristics of the syrup. Typically, a small amount is used so that it is undetectable in the final product.

A variety of other ingredients may be incorporated into a candy cane recipe to produce various effects. To give the candy flavor and color, wintergreen or peppermint oils are added. Other natural flavors obtained from fruits, berries, honey, molasses, and maple sugar have also been used in candy cane production. Artificial flavors have also been added to improve taste. Additionally, fruit acids like citric acid and lactic acid can be added to provide flavor. Artificial colors such as certified Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) colorants are used to modify the color of the final product. In the United States, the federal government regulates these colors and qualifies each batch of colorant produced by the dye manufacturers. This ensures that no carcinogenic compounds are added to food products.

Sugar is a commodity that has a price index that fluctuates with the market increases and decreases. As of December 6, 2013 the market is down -0.10 bring the price per pound to $16.59 per the Sugar, Free Market, Coffee Sugar and Cocoa Exchange (CSCE) contract no.11 nearest future position, US cents per Pound.

Manufactures of candy canes can source their sugar directly from manufactures or wholesalers. This can create extra spend or savings depending on which source you purchase from. Typically through distributors and wholesale companies, there is additional shipping, handlings, and middle man fees included in the purchase price.

Whether you have been purchasing from the same source for years or you are just starting your business, running a Request for Proposal will help you understand who the companies are, where they source their sugar, what their pricing structure is, what price index they use (this will help you determine historically any increases or decreases), and any additional fees they may include.

SafeSourcing, Inc. can help you source your goods, create and run a Request for Proposal and compress the suppliers pricing by running a Request for Quote. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Tomorrow we will discuss how to make candy canes and package them and how SafeSourcing can help in these areas.

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You can procure anything, including Candy Canes Part I!

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Inc. Archives

What does it take to make a candy cane, package it, market it, and distribution? All of these involve procurement. Today, the candy cane makes up a significant amount of the $1.4 billion Christmas candy market. In fact, billions of candy canes are made and consumed each year.

First the history of the candy cane: from the HomeBoy Media Network!

The candy cane is a Christmas tradition that many hold dear but nobody really knows why. Let’s face it, the only things we really know about candy canes is that they taste good and that they are red and white.

Whether the story of the candy cane is a legend or if it is true is not certain, but this is how the story goes: About two hundred-thirty years ago at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, the children that went to church there were really loud and noisy. They often moved around and would not pay attention to the choirmaster.

This was especially difficult for the choirmaster when they were supposed to be sitting still for the long living Nativity ceremony. So to keep the children quiet, he gave them a long, white, sugar candy stick. He couldn’t give them chocolate or anything like that because the people at that church would think it was sacrilegious. So he gave them the stick and he bent it on the end to look like a cane. It was meant to look like a shepherd’s cane, and so it reminded the children of the shepherds at Jesus’ birth.

In 1847, a German-Swedish immigrant in Wooster, Ohio put candy canes on his Christmas tree and soon others were doing the same. Sometime around 1900 candy canes came to look more like what we know them as today with the red stripes and peppermint flavoring.

Some people say the white color represents the purity of Jesus Christ and the red stripes are for the wounds he suffered. They also sometimes say that the peppermint flavoring represents the hyssop herb used for purifying and spoken of in the Bible. The shape also looks like the letter “J” for Jesus, not just a shepherd’s cane. It is possible that these things were added for religious symbols, but there is no evidence that is true.

Around 1920, a man in Georgia named Bob McCormack wanted to make candy canes for his family and friends. He later started mass-producing candy canes for his own business which he named Bob’s Candies. This is where many of our candy canes come from today.

Tomorrow we will discuss the raw materials needed to make candy canes.

For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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What’s Cooking?

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

 

Today’s post is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Consultant, SafeSourcing.

It’s that time of year again. Yes, baking for the holidays.  From biscuits to bread, cookies, cakes and pies, baking is the art of turning flour into delicious foods.  Flour is the finely milled wheat or other grains that give structure to baked goods; however, different baked goods require different structure.  Choosing the right flour will better lead you to baking success.  Choose the wrong flour could make for a baking disaster.

The Protein content is the primary differentiator in flours. High-protein wheat varieties (10-14 percent protein) is called “hard wheat.  Low-protein wheats (5-10 percent protein) is called “soft wheat”.  The more protein, the more gluten, thus equals more strength.  More strength means more volume and a chewier texture.  Doughs made from high-protein flours are more elastic and hold their shape better.  This is desirable in breads and yeast products, where a firm structure is necessary; but conversely, undesirable in pastries and cakes where the goal is flakiness or tenderness.  Unless flour is labeled “whole wheat”, all flour is white flour that is milled from the starchy innermost part of the wheat kernel (endosperm).  The following is a list a flours.

All-Purpose Flour. If a recipe calls for flour, it is calling for all-purpose flour.  All-purpose flour is a staple.  While it is not good for all purposes, it is the most versatile of flours.  It can produce flaky pastry crusts, tender biscuits, and chewy breads.  All-purpose flour can be bleached or unbleached.

Cake Flour. This flour has the lowest (5-8 percent).  The relative lack of gluten-forming proteins make this flour the ideal choice for tender baked goods.  Cake flour is generally chlorinated (a bleaching process that further weakens the gluten proteins and alters the flour’s starch which allows it to absorb more liquid and sugar.

Pastry Flour. An unbleached flour made from soft wheat with protein levels between cake flour and all-purple flour.  It is a pan ideal flour for pies, tarts, and many types of cookies.  You can make your own pastry flour by mixing 1 1/3 cups A-P flour and 2/3 cups of cake flour.

Bread Flour. This is the strongest of all flours.  With a protein content of 12-14 percent, it provides the most structural support.  In yeasted breads, where strong gluten is required to contain CO2 gases during the fermentation process, it not only makes for more volume and a chewier crumb, but also results s more browning of the crust.  Bread flour can be white, whole wheat, bleached or unbleached.  Unbleached AP flour can be a substitute for bread flour.

Self-Rising Flour. A flour where baking powder and salt have been added during milling.  This has been a long-time Southern staple.  Due to baking powder  being added, the shelf life is only about six months. You can make your own by combining 1 cup pastry flour with 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.

Whole Wheat Flour. When this flour is milled it is separate into three components- the endosperm, the germ (embryo) and the bran (the outer coating).  Varying amounts of germ and bran are added back into the flour.  This flour tends to produce heavier, denser baked goods.  In most recipes whole wheat flour can be substituted for up to half AP flour.  Whole wheat flour is much more perishable than AP flour because wheat germ is high in oils and prone to rancidity.

Gluten-Free Flour. Today there is a great variety of gluten-free flours available.  It can be made from various grains, nuts, and starches.  Rice flour blended with tapioca and potato starch is popular.  A small amount of xanthan gum is added to simulate the chewiness in gluten.

SafeSourcing regularly sources flour for a variety of companies. For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can help you with your sourcing needs, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

Resources ——————————

Flour 101,Food Network,11/11/2017

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Are Your Vehicles Winter Ready?

Friday, December 1st, 2017

 

Today’s post is by Troy Lowe; Vice President of Development at SafeSourcing.

Winter is quickly approaching and it is time to start getting your vehicles ready for the harsh weather.  One thing that always seems to get me every year is lack of windshield washer fluid.  You’ll be driving along on snowy day and the salt and water from the road splash up.  You turn on the wipers only to realize it smears on the windshield causing next to zero visibility.  Washer fluid is definitely needed to remove this kind of grime.  Make sure to keep an extra container available in the vehicle.  When purchasing windshield washer fluid, make sure to get an all-season washer fluid so that it does not freeze during the frigid temperatures.  While you’re at it, go ahead and check the washer blades for wear and tear and replace as needed.

If your battery is a few years old, it would be a good idea to have it tested.  Colder weather is much harsher on a battery and a weak battery can become a dead battery very quickly.  Take a look at the terminals and remove any corrosion to ensure a good connection.

If you have not had the coolant changed according to the manual recommendations, you may want to consider a flush and fill.  If the maintenance is up to date, you should still check for leaks, check the coolant level, and top it off if needed.  This is very crucial because the coolant, also called antifreeze, keeps the engine from freezing during the cold temperatures. Another important item to check is the tires.  Worn tires are very dangerous during the winter months.  Make sure that the tread is fine and that there is no uneven wear.  Check the tire pressure and make sure that it is set to the manufactures’ recommended pressure.  This is important and should be done about once a month.  While you’re doing this, do not forget to inspect the spare tire as well.

You may also want to consider keeping a survival kit within the vehicle in case of breakdowns.  This should consist of items such as blankets, flares, gloves, flashlight, first aid kit, jumper cables and cell phone charger. Driving in the winter is much more dangerous. To keep things safe, you may also want to inspect these other things as well:

  • Brakes
  • Lights
  • Oil
  • Filters
  • Heater and Defroster

If you need help finding a licensed maintenance company to maintain your vehicles, feel free to contact SafeSourcing.   We can gather all the necessary information for you and help you decide which company meets your needs.  If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help you, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

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