7. Get to know best your suppliers and their behaviour pattern Make yourself familiar with your suppliers' economic situation. Buy at prices, which allow your suppliers to deliver what has been ordered and specified. Pay attention 12 1/2016 eFOOD-Lab international Qualit y Management to the influence of cultural differences on business behaviour and compliance to rules. Do not sell at prices which force you to break your own rules or ethics. • Today, all major raw materials are traded at world market prices, which are known to everybody who is interested. Pushing a supplier beyond the lines to too low prices, provides him with the first temptation for fraud – and, in his eyes, under the economic pressure sometimes even offers him the justification to do so –, be it by adding of diluting water, by blending with a cheaper kind of meat, or the like. 8. Be aware of trends and monitor changes in your business area Stay informed about trends in your business (purchasing) area and monitor trends in the internet communities. This also means to be aware of opinions and preferences, which you yourself regard as silly or unacceptable. You need to know goals and strategies of the relevant pressure groups. This only enables you to anticipate and be prepared for attacks, which at the end may in the public opinion falsify your true intentions and the judgment on your business ethics. • Normally experts think "no one can really believe such a nonsense". However, Cleverly wrapped, today's communication networks offer a vast playing ground for hidden persuasion and abuse and they gain many lent ears. For many, the internet is the primary source for information – an information that gets away without any quality assurance. • Pressure groups also follow a business model, normally a model that does not overlap with yours. Their business models and the evolving campaigning may create risk for your business. You should therefore be aware of them. 9. Face the truth of reality rather than comforting appearance Let your chemical and microbiological analysis be done – as your auditing – by companies which deliver "non-flexible" true values and give you the true picture. Choose the same company irrespective of whether the analysis is done for you as a supplier or a buyer. • Apply single standards to yourself and to others. • Those who intentionally have analysis done by labs which are "inappropriate", act against business ethics and open their door for risks. • Analytical results can be higher or lower depending on method and equipment. They are not wrong as long as they lie within a certain corridor and are laboratory specifically constant. Take the example of the analysis of unwanted traces: Acting as a buyer some companies seek laboratories with a tendency to higher results. When they are a seller they prefer those with tend to lower results. 10. Ask to be audited unannounced and with no positive prejudice Audit your suppliers unannounced but still in a spirit of true partnership. Don't let yourself be influenced, neither by sympathy nor by antipathy even if you have a long term business relationship. In case of any negative audit result, offer your help for improvement if you are interested to stay in business with that supplier. Expect from yourself at least what you expect from others. • In the contract agree on such audits and spontaneous sample collection. • Be suspicious when, after their arrival, your auditors have to wait long before they are allowed to enter a production facility. When a demanded sample can only be delivered hours later, there is a great risk that it has been specially selected or even separately manufactured for that purpose. • In special cases (especially Asia) one should agree with the supplier in which production hall one's products are made. This ensures that the real location in the factory can be audited and "show rooms" will be avoided. • Suppliers that are seeing you with a rather elastic relationship to the rules will sooner or later claim the same for themselves – some day they will start cheating you. 11. Synchronize soft definitions carefully with your trade partners Take care ensuring that your immediate partners and yourself share the same definition of terms. Define your requirements carefully, especially for "soft" terms which may have many definitions, such as "sustainable", "natural", "bio", "regional". This is particularly important for all those with no binding legal definitions, respectively definitions which can differ from country to country – or culture to culture. Maybe your own requirements reach beyond legal definitions and therefore need a clear arrangement and agreement. • This is the only way to avoid discrepancy. If for instance you use a "natural flavour", the flavour may according to your supplier's definition be "natural" but possibly it does not meet the definition or perception which you advertise or for which you stand in the public. Even being true, this will make you appear a deceiver. • The less the compliance with your specifications can be analytically monitored, the more care has to be taken monitoring your suppliers as such. • The more sensitive consumer, customers, and the public react towards real or supposed discrepancies – as for instance with GMO – the higher an effort is needed not to miss out on something one should have thought about beforehand. 12. Be always well informed about public perception of the terms used in your claims Once you use "soft" terms like for instance "sustainable", make sure that you know how such terms are understood in the public opinion and by consumers. Identify where your definition may conflict in the understanding and with the goals of pressure groups. It is not you, who defines in such areas of "soft terms" what is regarded right or wrong, it is the public's view and perception. • Many terms – such as "sustainable" – constantly change their meaning or their perceived content. Many a time today, "sustainable" is regarded synonymous with "bio", "natural" or "preserving nature". The initial definition of sustainable namely that you do not harvest more than is renewable is more and more taking the back seat. • Communicate pro-actively with NGOs and pressure groups, build trust. This is possible even if your opinions differ substantially, what you need is an own firm, verifiable opinion on which you are acting. • In case of dispute, you may win in court. However, for the sake of the company you need to win with the consumers.
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