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Supplier audits KTBA

Production processes in clear view

Since 2020, KTBA has been providing supplier audits for Brand Masters from Oosterhout, the Netherlands. Brand Masters is an internationally operating commercial and logistics service provider. In addition to the purchase and sale of chocolate, confectionery, soft drinks and household items from name brands, Brand Masters also develops its own portfolio of concepts within these categories. Subsequently, the company is able to offer a unique range within non-food retail. “Suppliers are an essential link in our business operations. That is why we attach great importance to supplier audits. KTBA takes cares of this matter to our full satisfaction. As a result, we are now even more selective in our partnerships with suppliers”, says Astrid de Weerd, senior QA Officer at Brand Masters. Valerie Vanhove, regional manager at KTBA Belgium for Antwerp and Limburg, adds: “We are proud of the fact that we are able to link our auditors to suppliers in such a capable manner. ”

Improvements keep you on your toes

“These supplier audits are perhaps the most important in our organization,” emphasizes Astrid. “They provide a clear picture of the production processes of our suppliers. This allows us to see more quickly whether they fall under a high or low risk due to a specific certification (for example BRCGS, IFS, FSSC or ISO 9001). We also now assess much earlier whether a collaboration meets our wishes and expectations.” With its supplier audits, KTBA intercepts the vulnerable aspects, these can be blind spots that you as an ‘outsider’ are unlikely to quickly notice. Think, for instance, of Critical Control Points (CCPs) that are not properly described or safeguarded or incomplete hazard analyses. Astrid: “These aspects, or improvement points, keep us sharp. This way we can continue to bring high-quality products to the market and the business processes are properly safeguarded. It’s nice when an auditor points this out to you. In any case, the support provided by KTBA teaches us to be more critical.”

Scorecard part of ‘living’ quality manual

The purpose of supplier audits is to achieve continuous improvement within delivery, it is an ongoing process. No quality manual was written in one day. “It is a living document”, Valerie notes. “You continuously check whether internal procedures are consistent with practice and their legality. Each country has its own laws and regulations. There are already differences between the Netherlands and Belgium. You can imagine how vast the differences become if you look across more distant borders.” KTBA also offers a solution here as it is part of the international Mérieux NutriSciences. Therefore it can deploy auditors from 26 countries worldwide.
To get to know the suppliers better, KTBA developed a handy scorecard for companies. Astrid: “When suppliers first start working with us, we sometimes don’t know whether they do so because of a peak or because they believe in a sustainable collaboration with us. The scorecard shows whether you are in red, orange or green waters together, which you can than manage towards the desired result. Ultimately, you want to build lasting relationships for a sustainable future. Together with suppliers who endorse your vision and mission.”


Sustainability and awareness

Regarding sustainability. This is a topical theme for Brand Masters. For example, the company looks at its own carbon footprint, invested in solar panels and electric cars and combines as many efficient loads as possible. The question is whether its suppliers also consider sustainability to be important. “You want to be able to test that,” says Astrid. “Not to force suppliers to make sustainable choices, but to make them aware of the possibilities. The supplier audits also provide us with insight into this.” “The theme of sustainability and its importance is alive and well everywhere, including at KTBA”, adds Valerie. “Not only for our own organization, but we also advise and support our customers in this. For instance, in Belgium we have a retailer that opts for an eco-label on packaging. Another retailer attaches value to recyclable packaging. Every step is a welcome step. It’s wonderful if you can improve the chain in this way.” “KTBA also helped us with this,” notes Astrid. “For example, they have drawn up a questionnaire around this theme that helps us visualize the suppliers’ priorities in this area. KTBA then issues advice on this.” Astrid believes that the insights gained will also play an important role for the buyers of Brand Masters. This gives them the space to share knowledge and create awareness.

Taking the business to the next level

Within the food industry, supplier audits are a valuable service for any company to optimally guarantee food safety, at national and international level. “As an organization, we have grown enormously in recent years and innovate continuously, but you do have to start preparing for that in time. If you want to take your business to the next level, you have to invest in audits,” Astrid explains. A supplier audit makes the supplier aware of the importance of getting his affairs in order. This also serves as extra feedback for the supplier, which they can work with, which is another way to look at it.

Astrid de WeerdASTRID DE WEERD
Senior QA Officer bij Brand Masters

“I’m happy to have a partner like KTBA. Flexibility characterizes our cooperation. Not only when things go well, but also when we run into problems. “

KTBA takes care of it

Brand Masters has a lot of knowledge, but due to busy work, employees often lacked time. KTBA can now take care of this. “Before we started working with KTBA, we also invited other potential partners to the table,” Astrid says. “In the end, a top three favorites emerged. Ultimately, KTBA emerged as the winner. Because they have everything under one roof and the price-quality ratio is excellent. We now also use their services in the field of labeling and receive support in matters related to legislation and regulations. KTBA really thinks along with you. They don’t wait, but contribute with ideas and suggestions, tailored to who we are. As an organization you benefit a lot from that. If you, as a consultant, keep saying no, the door will close further and further with us. Instead, at KTBA the door was wide open. I’m happy to have a partner like KTBA. Flexibility characterizes our cooperation. Not only when things go well, but also when we run into problems. Looking to the future, I think we’re going to need KTBA a lot more,” says Astrid. “We love hearing this,” Valerie responds. “KTBA is indeed a one-stop shop for all kinds of expert services related to food quality and safety. We deliver tailor-made work and the customer is always central. We like to work with companies that are open to advice and are not afraid to have a good discussion every now and then. Brand Masters is definitely one of them.

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