What’s it all about then?
The role of the buyer is a key factor in the success of any food manufacturing company.
As a buyer your focus will be to source and purchase all of the raw materials needed for successful production at the best price available and within agreed quality specifications.
You’ll always be on the lookout for newer and better quality materials to keep your company ahead of the competition.
You’ll also have to ensure that everything required for production is available on time and that the correct amount of material is purchased to maximise cost and reduce waste.
What might I be doing?
Your job as buyer will likely include most of the following responsibilities:
- Ensuring all materials are purchased on time, to specification, and at the best price available
- Negotiating with suppliers and developing long term contractual relationships
- Liaising with planning and production staff for forecasting purposes
- Coordinating deliveries and maintaining suitable stock levels make sure production proceeds smoothly
- Ensuring technical product support is available as required from suppliers
- Making sure stock is rotated effectively and waste minimised
- Identifying new and alternative sources of supply for products
- Managing a team of specialist buyers and multiple product lines
- Monitoring the market for new materials
- Budgeting and forecasting accurately
What will be expected of me?
You’ll be expected to work in a pro-active and strategic manner to ensure that the business you work for enjoys an uninterrupted supply of materials for production.
You’ll need to continually research your market for new materials and supplies and to make sure you aren’t caught out if a sudden shortage of an ingredient should arise.
You’ll need to be a collaborative sort of person who can forge strong relationships with colleagues in the company and also suppliers.
You’ll need to be completely familiar with all aspects of your company’s products and methods of production and be able to work at times under extreme pressure.
Naturally you’ll be a highly organised person and someone who can be trusted to work using your own initiative to negotiate and communicate effectively.
What can I expect?
You’ll be office based with quite a bit of travel thrown in as you’ll need to meet with suppliers and attend various events on behalf of your company.
Forget about a typical 40 hour week, the chances are you will be busy for more than this, although the job is very rewarding.
You can expect to have to work weekends as well in particularly busy production periods and telephone calls from shift working personnel can be a hazard of the job.
So, expect a lot of pressure but also reward.
What about the pay?
The typical buyer will have started as a trainee or an assistant and will therefore have gained several years experience before taking a role such as this so a salary of £35,000 to £50,000 is average.
At a senior level a salary of more than £50,000 is often the norm in larger food companies.
What qualifications do I need to get in?
It is likely that you will have entered the company as a graduate and started life in the buying department as a trainee. For a food company, business and food related degrees are much sought after by employers but previous buying experience in food might also be helpful.
What about further training?
When you start working as a buyer you may want to join the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply who have a range of qualifications aimed at proving your professionalism in your job.
Anything else I might need to know?
Yes, if you’re working for a large food manufacturing business you’ll likely have responsibility for a range of merchandise whereas those employed in small businesses may have responsibility for the buying everything.
Remember that you’ll need to enjoy working with people in this job so, if you prefer to work alone without interruption, then buying isn’t likely to suit you as a career.