Special report – Our purchaser, Ger Vlaming, travelled to Chile and Paraguay in April visiting existing & potential new suppliers of Rosehip and Chia seeds.
To get a better idea of what our purchaser Ger Vlaming does during visits to suppliers we sat down with Ger and asked him a number of questions. In April of this year he travelled to Chile and Paraguay and talkes about his experiences and the importance of personal visits with suppliers to maintain good relations and ensure a sustainable supply chain for our ingredients.
Q: How often do you visit suppliers?
A: We have suppliers all over the world so about every other year I plan a visit to different suppliers in different parts of the world.
Q: Was this the first time you visited Chili and Paraguay?
A: I had visited Chili before as we have been working with Rosehip suppliers there for some time now, but it was my first time to Paraguay where I visited a potential new Chia seed supplier.
Q: Why is it important to visit existing suppliers and potential new ones?
A: It is important to stay in personal contact to maintain a good relationship and see with my own eyes how our suppliers work. From visiting fields to seeing how the crops grow through to the production process and storage. We are always looking for new suppliers for our ingredients as its important to have multiple suppliers in different parts of the world so we can guarantee we have stock for our customers.
Q: In Chili you visited a number of Rosehip suppliers – can you tell us something about the areas Rosehip grows ?
Driving down the road you constantly see Rosehip bushes on the side of the road, these are obviously not suitable for production use.
The fields I visited did vary changing from small fields with a lot of bushes to large growing areas with bushes wider spread, and even a small field with cultivated Rosehip.
The areas are not suitable for normal cultivation, so mostly you also find some cattle wondering between the Rosehip bushes.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the process of Rosehip seed production you’ve seen in Chili?
A: The Rosehips are firstly dried in an oven for approximately 8-10 hours, the ovens cannot be too hot as that would cause the shells to burn. At an hour and a half interval trolleys with rosehips leave the oven through the back while at the same time new ones get entered at the front to ensure a continued stream. After drying, bruising, breaking and cleaning, the shells are separated from the seeds and fluff. The shells get divided in cut and fine cut, the seeds get sieved again to remove any small particles. Via conveyor belts the rosehips get transported from below on the floor into a tower to undergo this process of separation. After this a final seed sieving process takes place after which they are put in containers and bags and get stored in a warehouse.
Q: The trip to Paraguay involved visiting Chia fields. Is Chia difficult to grow? What are some of the issues growers have to deal with?
A: Chia is a winter crop and it’s important it grows slowly so it develops its seeds. In summer it grows without developing seeds. In Paraguay there is always a risk of frost due to its proximity to the Andes from which downward cold winds can reach the flat lands of Paraguay and this can cause damage. However the crops I visited were in very healthy condition.
Q: How did you find the whole experience – can you tell us what you enjoyed the most?
A: It is always interesting to visit different places and countries, you get a better understanding of a countries culture, climate, infrastructure and issues companies deal with, by just being there in person.
Also surprised that during these visits you always get new insights and knowledge which makes it so interesting and worthwhile.
What I enjoy the most is getting to know your suppliers and staff in person and take your relation with them to a more personal level which makes doing business so much better.
Q: Any plans for future visits?
A: In the short term there are no visits planned, but if there is a reason to purchase seeds, intensify relationships, or to improve my/our knowledge this can be the trigger to pack my bags again:)
Thanks Ger and we look forward talking to you after your next trip!
Grauchos of Paraguay