Responsibly sourced raw materials

BioMar has several ways of securing responsibly sourced and safe raw materials. One of these ways is carrying out supplier audits on a regular basis, based on a profound assessment of requirements and risks connected to each single raw material and supplier.

The BioMar audit team gains first hand impressions on how freshly processed fish meal is being bagged.

BioMar feeds are made of responsibly sourced and safe raw materials. BioMar sources all raw materials from designated suppliers, approved and audited according to BioMar’s risk assessment procedures - including traceability, sustainability, food safety, quality systems, and ethical and environmental policies.

The SAAT team

BioMar’s SAAT team (SAAT: Supplier, Approval, Audit, Traceability) is a strong team of global and local sourcing, purchasing and quality managers and assistants. The team bases its activities on the specifications in BioMar’s Sourcing Policy and Code of Conduct.

- In BioMar, we operate with three groups of raw materials, each having a group of experts allocated: marine raw materials, non-marine raw materials and additives. Moreover, suppliers are categorised to be of either global or local relevancy. As we have a zero compromise on quality and food safety, our suppliers as well as each raw material to be used in BioMar feeds need to go through several processes, Berthel Vestergaard, the sourcing manager at the BioMar factory in Denmark, explains about the set-up.

Detailed product specifications

- For every single raw material that we intend to utilise in BioMar feeds, the category managers are responsible for creating all raw material specifications with the needed support from relevant functions. These specifications apply on global level as well as local. The parameters of these specifications embrace economical aspects as well as quality and food safety concerns. We update these specifications whenever needed to ensure that new legislation or new knowledge regarding critical hazards, etc. are met.

BioMar code of conduct

- To any company that wants to supply raw materials to us, we set high standards, too. Part of our role as a multinational company sourcing raw materials in the global market is to ensure that our suppliers as well as ourselves meet the standards outlined in our BioMar Code of Conduct. All suppliers must sign and recognise the BioMar Code of Conduct.

Risk assessments

- Furthermore, BioMar applies risk assessments on every single source of raw material and on all suppliers. The SAAT risk assessment procedure includes multiple choice questions/answers on, for instance, country of origin, degree of processing, food safety risk assessment on a raw material or prior experiences with the supplier. Altogether, the assessment will give an evaluation score on the risk we might encounter.

- Once a year, BioMar sends a supplier qualification questionnaire to all our suppliers. This is a comprehensive list of questions. By their answers, we get an update on developments on certifications, compliance to laws and regulations in force and other focus points. The answers give a score that we consider in our evaluation of suppliers.

- Thus, risk assessment lies under the responsibility of either a global or a local sourcing manager. In cooperation with the quality department, we carry out risk assessments and audits on various raw materials and suppliers, on behalf of the BioMar Group, Berthel tells.

Audits carried out at suppliers’ place

BioMar’s corps of supplier auditors counts approximately 30 lead auditors and an even more comprehensive number of co-auditors. Berthel, who has recently been in Finland to perform an audit on a fish meal supplier, explains:

- We carry out audits of any new supplier of raw materials. And once a year, we evaluate which of our existing suppliers to re-audit. On an annual basis, I lead three or four audits.

- If the risk score of one of the suppliers within my portfolio of suppliers surpasses a certain level, the audit team evaluates if there is a need for carrying out an audit. An audit can help to give a more precise evaluation of the risk we may encounter by cooperating with a specific supplier or by utilising a specific raw material from a specific supplier.

- Whenever we plan auditing a supplier, we set up a specific audit plan. Topics to be touched during the audit may arise from the annual questionnaire. I also gather input from BioMar’s SAAT organisation on focus points for the audit to secure that I get answers on any concerns that my colleagues may have.

The supplier receives the audit plan and the supplier’s team can now prepare for the scheduled audit.

Berthel Vestergaard informs that for the audit, he and his co-auditor go to the supplier’s place – preferably to the production plant. An audit will most often be scheduled to take three to six hours to give room for a constructive dialogue and a factory and / or warehouse visit.

During the audit meeting, some answers to the annual questionnaire might need to be further clarified. A review of the BioMar’s raw material specifications might also be discussed during the meeting.

Focus on food safety

- The audit plan can focus on the procedures set to secure that BioMar’s requests for food safety are met. Performing an audit on a processed raw material will most likely include in depth questions on the process flow in the production unit. Also, we will in the dialogue and the factory tour pay special attention to possible weaknesses, such as risk of cross contamination.

High level of sustainability and traceability

- BioMar has a special focus on securing a high level of sustainability and traceability, Berthel Vestergaard informs. In this aspect, the supplier needs to provide convincing proof that the product he offers to BioMar is in line with our expectations.

Complete traceability is fundamental to food safety. BioMar procedures and registrations contribute to full traceability both upstream and downstream in the food production chain.

- In the case of a fish meal supplier, for instance, this means we can test the traceability of fish meal from where a fish was caught in the sea to the fish meal plant and to the delivery of a batch of fish meal at a BioMar plant. And tracing backwards means tracing from a specific batch of fish meal that BioMar has received back to the fish meal plant and back to where the fish was caught.

- An audit also gives room to secure that a supplier is well prepared to be in line with, for instance, modifications in food safety regulations that soon might come into force, says Berthel Vestergaard.

Factory tour for first-hand impressions

Visiting the factory and warehouses enables the auditors to get a first-hand impression of the physical framework of the site, including the process flow and working conditions. - Compared to the paperwork and discussions in a meeting room, the factory tour is more hands-on and by this, it can reveal unforeseen weaknesses and strengths, says Berthel Vestergaard.

An inspection of the warehouse at the processors plant gives insight into parameters such as physical conditions of the storage and traceability measures.

An inspection of the warehouse at the processors plant gives insight into parameters such as physical conditions of the storage and traceability measures.

Audit report and actions

After return from the audit, the audit team establishes an audit report, summarising facts and impressions: strengths, observations and recommendations regarding corrective actions to be taken. The report also states non-conformities with relevant standards, legislation, BioMar Group requirements, etc. that need to be acted upon.

This audit report is sent to the supplier. In case of non-conformities, the supplier will have to respond to the audit report within two weeks to confirm that corrective actions will be implemented.

A constructive dialogue

- Audits are carried out with the spirit of establishing a constructive dialogue, says Berthel Vestergaard. I really appreciate and enjoy this kind of meetings. Especially when we see that our collaboration partners do their utmost to answer our questions and to explain and show what they do to comply with our requirements,

- All in all, we leave no stone unturned to secure responsibly sourced and safe raw materials. Audits are one of our tools for this and it is always exciting to meet our suppliers, Berthel Vestergaard summarizes.