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Supply chain mapping…

In this post I’m going to cover my 5 top tips for supply chain mapping. Remember, these tips relate to the standards that require detailed supply chain mapping, this is above and beyond what is required for compliance to the BRC standard.

Brown 1 Only ‘at risk’ raw materials need mapping

Not every raw material needs to have supply chain mapping, so only carry mapping out on those that really need it. Assess each raw material (including packaging) to establish which are at risk. An at-risk raw material is one which has a known threat associated with it, or one where there is a claim on pack that could be compromised if you were to be sent the wrong raw material.

Brown 2If it can be assured at the back door, supply chain mapping is not necessary

The purpose of supply chain mapping is to establish what the threats are to the raw material from the supply chain. However, if you can check the product when it arrives at your goods in and confirm its ok, then supply chain mapping is not necessary. For example, if you were making Bramley Apple Pies, the Bramley apples may be at risk, due to the claim of ‘Bramley’. So, supply chain mapping may be required. If the apples are delivered whole and you can therefore check that they are Bramleys when they arrive, there is no need to carry out supply chain mapping – as you can assure that the claim is correct at the back door. If, however, the apples arrive pre-prepared (peeled and sliced) you probably wouldn’t be able to tell they are Bramleys, so supply chain mapping would still be needed.

Brown 3When is enough, enough?

Knowing how far back the supply chain mapping needs to go is key. It’s easy to get bogged down and do a lot more work than is necessary. The threat or the claim you’re trying to assure will give you the answer. For example, if you’re purchasing a mayonnaise which contains free-range egg (so, you’re mapping due to the free-range claim), then you need to map, back to the manufacturer of the mayonnaise and then that supplier needs to follow the map of just the free-range egg – you don’t need to map all the ingredients in the mayonnaise as they don’t add any value to the claim. The egg would need mapping back to the point at which the claim is assured, which in this case would be the farm.

Brown 4It takes time, so be clear with your expectations

Supply chain mapping is new to us all, so nobody has got used to what is needed or expected yet. Think about what you want to achieve by doing the mapping and put together a form that asks all the right questions. When you send this to your supplier, accompany it with some instructions explaining what the purpose is, why you need it, what you need them to do and by when. It may even be helpful to call your supplier and talk through the process with them, to ensure that they understand what you need.

Brown 5Review the finished map

It’s going to take some time, depending on how complicated the map is, you are most likely going to have to go backwards and forwards with your supplier to get all the information you need, but once it’s done – you then need to review the information. You are looking for threats at each step in the supply chain. For example, if you’ve mapped down to farm level, is it clear how many farms your product is coming from? If not, what can you do about it? Are all the farms approved? Can you verify which farm your product has come from when it arrives on site, to ensure its one of the approved ones? Are there too many farms to manage? Can the number be reduced to reduce the risk? Assess each map and make a list of threats – these are the threats you then need to put into your threat/integrity assessment, so you can add protection measures to mitigate the risk.

I hope these tips help you, it’s a complicated subject; so if you have any questions you’d like me to answer, please add them to the comments below. (By submitting your comments others can see your question together my answer and it will help others as they are probably wondering the same thing!.
If you would like help your with your supply chain mapping or integrity assessment, please get in touch!  We have developed a training course, methodology and template system which has been approved by the retailer in question!  Our consultancy rates are charged hourly so we can be flexible for your needs at very affordable prices.


  • Carrie says:

    Your 5 tips were music to my ears! It’s was refreshing to read that if the material can be assured at the back door then it doesn’t need mapping and that this is above and beyond BRC requirements. For the niche market I work in it’s quite difficult to convince people that you don’t need to map everything as we have on site ability for testing most of our materials. The detailed mapping certainly seems (to me anyway) driven by the major retailers who have had their fingers burned. It is remains to be seen if this prevents another horsemeat scandal with the global supply chains we now have.

  • Olu says:

    Thank you very much for your tutorials. I have found them really helpful time and again…

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