Since COVID-19, supply issues in the food chain have been nothing new. But as the inflationary crisis begins, these concerns are worsening, making it extra tough to have ice cream innovation.
Fortunately, Topping Solutions has extensive collective knowledge, experience, and connections within the dessert and indulgent snacking space. The company’s ingenious way of doing business can help customers navigate the industry's current challenges.
Working closely with both manufacturers and customers, Topping Solutions helps bring innovation to the ice cream world, despite the current sourcing issues. Their strong relationships between manufacturers and customers and repacking facilities create faster lead times and a more seamless go-to-market process – both key to remaining competitive in the land of frozen desserts.
Our interview with Topping Solution’s Rachel Bliesner and Olga Hundley, from Sales and Marketing Development, provides us with further context about three current inclusion sourcing challenges and solutions.
#1: Handling Smaller Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) Requests
After facing difficulties with labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and high inflation, many large ingredient manufacturers started turning away smaller Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) requests. Instead, they focused only on a core portfolio of customers and ingredients.
This presents a twofold problem: brands and manufacturers cannot secure a sufficient supply of standard inclusions (such as chocolate chips and chopped cookies), and sourcing innovative items (including keto, gluten-free, vegan, and organic claims) has become even more problematic.
As a result, brands and manufacturers spend extensive time researching potential suppliers – only to discover that their coveted inclusions have a much higher MOQ and price tag.
Inclusions are the biggest differentiator and innovation driver in the ice cream industry. Yet current challenges are causing brands and manufacturers to spend more resources and cash flow on purchasing inclusions than ever before. And unfortunately, improvements are unexpected for quite some time.
To solve these problems, Bliesner recommends building strong, loyal relationships with manufacturers. “By spending countless hours building quality relationships with our manufacturers and consolidating the globality of our customers' ingredient needs, we’ve been able to gain priority with our manufacturers and better serve our customers.”
However, Topping Solutions' repacking capabilities provide the most significant competitive advantage. “We’re purchasing large MOQs, repacking them, and reselling them in smaller MOQs using our own repacking facilities. This goes a long way in helping our customers propel their innovation and reduce their risk and cash flow.”
#2: Counteracting Long Lead Times
The lead time for certain topping supplies has also increased exponentially since COVID-19. Combine the current labor shortage with supply chain issues, and many manufacturers are doubling their lead times. According to Bliesner, “The lead times used to be 2-4 weeks. Now, our customers are being quoted 4-8 weeks for the same products.”
Partnering with Topping Solutions can provide security of supply – or at least much less disruption with the supply chain. The company has a high likelihood of sourcing ingredients in a quicker timeframe due to its strong connections in the industry.
And because they require less lead time, customers no longer need to store as much inventory, which frees up warehousing space. Together, this helps considerably improve a customer’s cash flow management.
#3: Finding a Market for Surplus Ingredients
Volatile demand makes it hard to forecast accurately, leaving many customers with leftover ingredients (for example, peanut brittle or chopped cone pieces).
Topping Solutions makes it easy for customers to liquidate their surplus inventory. The company buys excess inventory and resells it to its customer base – a win-win for all.
The innovative company’s even been recognized for its efforts. “We actually won a Supplier of the Year award with one of our customers partly due to our ability to buy back remaining inventory and resell it to our customer base, making us a true solution provider,” says Hundley.
A Collaborative Solution for Inclusion Sourcing
Like Topping Solutions, INNODELICE is committed to providing out-of-the-box solutions for the present sourcing challenges. With our global network of partners, we can provide innovative solutions to grow your business – even during the current difficult times.
We enable our partners to buy and sell between themselves through three different platforms, helping create cost efficiencies in innovative frozen dessert products. For more information about our services, check out our website.
Founded by former executives in the Ice Cream industry, INNODELICE aims to create a worldwide ecosystem of solutions within the frozen dessert industry. Thanks to the relationships fostered by INNODELICE, manufacturers, brands, importers, distributors and suppliers can discover, buy and sell solutions to GROW their business. These solutions include co-manufactured and branded products as well as innovative and competitive ingredients, packaging and services. Our collaboration model generates lower costs and fewer risks for our participating partners while optimising their time to market. To learn more about INNODELICE, contact Andrea MONTREUIL (email@example.com) or visit www.innodelice.com.