A behind-the-scenes look at the Purchase department
How do you ensure that a product developed by the R&D department can actually be produced? Our Buyer, Lute, takes care of this. In this interview, you will read all about the Purchase department. Lute joined the Schouten team in January. Together with Petra (Copack-Manager) and Claudia (Procurement Assistant), they comprise the Purchase department.
Lute Stoelwinder – Buyer
Lute: “In my role as a tactical purchaser, I ensure that we are able to purchase the necessary ingredients to produce our plant-based protein products. I am focused on the medium- to long-term. I select the suppliers in cooperation with the QA/QC department. I set the terms (e.g. price, delivery time, minimum purchase amounts, payment terms, etc.) with the suppliers and finalize the contracts.
I also ensure that new contracts are finalized in a timely manner. Thus, we can be certain that we have sufficient access to necessary resources.”
Quality and relationships are #1
“Our R&D department develops plant-based protein products. This may be a vegan hamburger for our own product range. But it can also be a product that is co-developed in cooperation with a client.
R&D then brings me a recipe. I then get to work preparing a cost estimate for the concept. R&D then develops the product further and trial production takes place. Following trial production, the final formulation is known and I can definitively calculate the cost.”
“Our products are made from the best ingredients. Plant-based proteins generally form the basis of these diverse vegetarian and vegan products. Examples of these include soy-, wheat- and pea protein. These are often accompanied by beans, nuts and seeds. But lentils, chickpeas and quinoa are also great ingredients with a high plant-based protein content.
In this way, our R&D department develops the best products. Our products have a high plant-based protein content, which makes them a genuine replacement for meat.”
An up-to-date product range
“The R&D department is also dedicated to optimising existing recipes and products. Whenever an existing product is modified, I provide a revised cost estimate.”
How do I get the highest quality ingredients?
“Ingredients are purchased from the supplier and/or the producer. Whenever we are producing a product for a major client we generally consult with all parties involved. I then figure out with the supplier how we can get the best possible product for the lowest price.
I also deal regularly with sourcing from new suppliers of raw materials. This helps give you a good idea of what is currently going on in the market, which makes it possible to find better quality ingredients and/or set better terms. This also helps reduce our risk. If a particular plant-based protein or other ingredients are not available from our regular supplier, then I can quickly switch.”
“We also have various internal guidelines at Schouten with which our various ingredients must comply. As an RTRS member, we contribute to the production of sustainable soy. In line with our core values, we try as muchas possible to obtain ingredients from the Netherlands or Europe.”
“For example, sometimes a client indicates that they do not want to use soy from China. Whenever I source a new supplier it always goes through the QA/QC department. Among other things, they assess & evaluate their production process and certification, which should ideally be a GFSI recognised certification. Schouten also actively monitors this. Consequently, it is actually impossible for me to buy poor quality ingredients.”
The right supplier
“Schouten is a fast-paced and dynamic company that has grown rapidly in recent years. And I am one who prepares thoroughly. Thus we complement one another well.
It is important to purchase the right ingredients from the right suppliers. The selection process is thus very important. In addition to the proper quality ingredients, it is also important to have a good relationship with the supplier.
Despite my experience as a buyer, I also learn a lot here. I have a lot of freedom and responsibility.
The best thing about my job is the contact with the suppliers, setting terms and finalizing contracts so that the procurement process is secured, but also the dynamism of the food industry, the new developments in this market, with all these new ingredients.”
Switching quickly when necessary
It is important to be able to switch quickly whenever necessary. I ensure this ability by maintaining close communication with suppliers. In addition, I also provide structure. I make sure that the contracts are clear, that there are sufficient inventories, etc. In this way, you can switch quickly and remain fast and dynamic. By maintaining good contacts with your suppliers, you also maintain good contact with the market. When you work together it is a win-win.
A deal is a deal
“I consider integrity and trustworthiness to be very important not only as a human being, but also as a buyer. You cannot be dishonest because you’ll just get that back in return. A deal is a deal.”
“I recently had a visit from a supplier who supplies us with cabbage, from whom we purchased a little less than previously planned. I said: “We normally purchase according to the terms of the contract.” Thus the contract was extended a bit. The supplier was very happy with this. I just think that’s normal. Furthermore, I think it also goes without saying that the invoices should get paid on time. We work with Claudia to ensure that the purchase invoices are reviewed on time so that they can be sent to the administration.
Plant-based protein products are naturally extremely sustainable, but I am continuously looking for ways to improve. This might be the purchase of more sustainable paper, purchasing ingredients locally instead of from China, as well as the optimisation of transport so that less harm is done to the environment.”
Would you like to know more about our purchasing department? Or would you like to know more about our products? Please feel free to contact us!