buckwheat groats

Strengthening a Supply Chain in the Face of Tariffs

Sourcing a variety of materials into the United States has become more difficult over the past few months given current trade disputes created over the several months. For example, historically Firebird Artisan Mills sourced organic buckwheat grown in China due to a favorable price and reliable supply. However, a 10% tariff imposed in autumn of 2018, and 25% tariff expected to be imposed March 1st removes the price advantage organic Chinese buckwheat has enjoyed and naturally generates concern on the long-term reliability of Chinese ancient grains.

Firebird sourcing director Travis Greene decided this challenging situation could actually generate a positive opportunity for the organization, customers, farmers and supply chain partners. 

“Because of Oriental buckwheat’s long supply chain, a perceived lack of reliability of organic certification, and the new imposition of these tariffs, we chose to focus on sourcing domestically grown organic buckwheat,” said Greene.  

Greene and the Firebird team agreed a domestic supply chain could be a win-win solution for a wide variety of reasons.  American growers stood more than capable to handle the agricultural production demands of buckwheat and once Firebird was able to portray a growing demand for the healthy, useful ingredient, the team had growing confidence they could find a domestic region to supply incremental buckwheat supply.

“We now source 100% of our buckwheat needs domestically from the northern plains of US,” stated Greene.  “Both our customers and our own team benefit from a shorter and more responsive supply chain.”

Lead time on buckwheat procurement has been reduced from eight weeks to eight days and sourcing locally gives Firebird great confidence in the quality of farming and grain processing practices. Sourcing locally also allows the Firebird team greater access to processors for on-site food safety audits and help generate income for US farmers who’ve been hit by low traditional commodity prices for multiple years.

“What we’ve accomplished with buckwheat in just the past few months should show consumer packaged goods companies and processors that they should not necessarily feel constrained by intimidating extended supply chains for gluten-free alternative ingredients,” said Bradford Warner, VP, Marketing.  

To learn more on this topic and how Firebird helps manufacturers produce quality products, give us a call at 701-324-4330 or email us at news@firebirdmills.com.