Tracing every last drop: Cookers Bulk Oil

Cookers Bulk Oil is helping the food services sector transition to a circular economy through a business model centred on managing the entire life of oil and traceability.

Traceability is a prominent concept across the waste and resource recovery sector as multiple players in the supply chain are tasked with looking after the movement of waste.

The same concept is just as important in Australia’s food sector with certifications that ensure products and services gain a tick of approval for best practice. Minimising environmental risks is central to providing customers with such a service.

With tens of thousands of eating establishments throughout Australia – all of which use cooking oil of one form or another – it is an issue that bulk oil specialist Cookers Bulk knows all too well.

When it comes to sustainability, traceability and how vegetable oil can affect its surrounds, the company has processes in place aimed at keeping the environment free from any negative outcomes caused by vegetable oils.

National quality and safety manager for the company Hari Srinivas says product traceability is a universally applicable concept.

He says this is why Cookers has rigid standards when it comes to sourcing its vegetable oil supplies.

“To deal with Cookers you need to be an approved supplier, which means we look and see what sort of practices and standards you are following,” Hari explains.

“Suppliers need to meet minimum standards and it means we don’t go to any supplier who hasn’t got a certification/traceability system in place that is not internationally recognised.”

He cites the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) a private organisation established and managed by the Consumer Goods Forum in Belgium. It maintains a scheme to benchmark food safety standards for manufacturers.

Certification can be achieved through a successful third-party audit by schemes recognised by the GFSI including the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8, IFS Food Version 6 and SQF Safe Quality Food Code 8th Edition, to name a few.

“Without those types of certification we don’t even entertain any supplier,” Hari says.

“We are stringent with our suppliers. If you look into the way the industry is going now, the majority of the supply chains are going through some sort of certification system, including HACCP. These sorts of certifications are one of the core fundamentals of traceability.”

Hari says he is proud that the company has yet to have any of its products recalled. He puts it down to not only the standards it sets, but also compliant suppliers, and their own end-users as well.

Every year, Cookers performs an exercise where they have a mock recall, which involves checking its suppliers’ traceability to make sure they have the correct systems in place and that they are working. This is because he knows that if there ever is a recall, they need to know where every drop of oil they have distributed has ended up.

The good news for end-users is that if that does happen, Cookers will be able to trace the batch number and know where the offending product
is very quickly through its centralised system.

Traceability is also key when it comes to dealing with customers in case things go wrong once the oil has been distributed. Cookers make sure its customers also comply with standards and regulations, too as it’s important the company ensures its customers are getting the product they paid for, according to specifications.

“We are audited every year, and our auditor reviews how long it takes to check something and what is the level of accuracy of our traceability,” Hari says.

“If we have an issue, we can compare it with the same batch delivered nationally to different customers. We can get a sample and test it with the same batches from other customers.”

Cookers’ circular economy solution ensures that the customers who procure its fresh oil are also its used oil collection customers.

Within this setup, Cookers also run a fleet of vehicles, including stainless steel trucks delivering fresh cooking oil and blue vehicles picking up the used product.

Not only do they pick it up, but the company provides storage equipment used on-site by the customer and facilitates the management of the entire life of the oil.   

“Once they use the oil, we provide the equipment to transfer the used oil product into our blue tankers, which collect it at regular intervals,” Hari says.

“We get the oil back and we have got mechanisms to handle the oil in such a way it can go into biodiesel production.

“It means that with every drop of oil we sell, we make sure not a single drop goes into the drain.”

Taking this a step further, Cookers can measure the amount of oil collected and ensure it is the same as that delivered.

“We do all the calculations, so if there are any big variations we will go and speak to the customer to see if there is anything wrong and find out whether we can help with oil management.”

He says another reason to use a company like Cookers Bulk Oil is that due to its tanker delivery method, no empty oil tins head to local landfill. If a customer needed 100 litres of oil per week, that would usually consist of five 20-litre drums which may end up in landfill. With Cookers’ tankers, the drums are redundant.

Importantly, Hari says most of the oil is Australian sourced and more than 90 per cent refined locally.

“For example, the canola oil we sell is 100 per cent Australian.

“Other oils, depending on the cropping situation, are imported in crude form from reputable suppliers who have proper certifications in place – usually from Argentina and European countries.”

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Oil procured sustainability: Cookers Bulk Oil

Cookers Bulk Oil System explains how a push towards sustainability in the food services sector is seeing more organisations turn to its full lifecycle solution.

It’s critical that quality assurance systems are applied in the food services industry to ensure products are food grade.

While food safety is first and foremost a priority, conscientious consumers are increasingly calling for products that also meet rigorous environmental standards.

For nearly 20 years, Cookers Bulk Oil has placed sustainability at the core of its operations.

With this in mind, the company provides a complete oil management solution across the broader food services industry. Its diverse customer base ensures it is able to service small to medium businesses, right through to major corporations, with high-quality cooking oils meeting industry standards. This comprises, but is not limited to, restaurants, casual dining, cafes, takeaway, hotels and fast food establishments.

The two major products sold by Cookers are canola oil and a premium frying oil branded XLFRY Oil. In addition to a suite of other products, the company is able to manufacture blends according to its customers’ needs.

Cookers’ lifecycle solution sees it source fresh Australian oil that meets industry standards and delivering it to the sector through dedicated trucks. It then picks up regular used oil which is converted into valuable commodities such as biodiesel.

Garry Nash, General Manager of Sales at Cookers Bulk Oil System, says the business initially started out with a focus on kitchen efficiencies. Over time, Cookers increased its scope towards recyclable solutions for oil management as sustainability became a considerable focus for procurement.

“It’s really important for our customer base that they not only know where their oil has come from, but also where it’s going,” Garry explains.

“When we pick up customers’ oil, they know that it’s coming back to our depots to be refined and given a second life in the biodiesel industry, so that full circle approach helps a business understand and implement best practice.”

The company works with Australian oil manufacturers to refine products locally.

One of Cookers’ key offerings is the use of storage units instead of tins, preventing 300 tins from ending up in landfill for each truck of oil delivered. Garry says that this not only has an environmental benefit, but avoids the cost of disposal through gate fees.

Each delivery is accompanied with a certificate of analysis to support traceability for customers. Food service organisations are supplied with purpose-built storage units and a dedicated business development manager to meet their requirements.

“We batch track every drop of oil that we deliver knowing the date we delivered it, what the product was and what the batch was all the way back to when we received it.”

Cookers’ key point of differentiation in the food market is that it holds Safe Quality Food (SQF) accreditation for oil supply in Australia. SQF is a globally recognised food safety program that reinforces its commitment to rigorous safety standards in the industry.

Garry says SQF holds Cookers to a high account for its product traceability – an issue that has increasingly become topical with product recalls for consumer products such as strawberries and honey. He says product dilution is also another food industry issue that Cookers seeks to alleviate with transparent processes, with the company allowing unannounced audits.

“Our business policy is our doors are always open to our customers and that means if they were to knock on the door unannounced, our warehouses can be walked through and viewed by anyone at any time, and that is a requirement of SQF.”

“It’s one thing to have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification, but we feel that SQF is one step above that.”

Cookers also holds an International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC), which covers comprehensive sustainability requirements to monitor greenhouse gas emissions and ensure products are traceable and produced in an environmentally responsible manner.

The used oil that returns to the depots is decrumbed, dewatered and heat treated to create a finished product sold off into biodiesel.

The company ensures its own operations are sustainable by harvesting and reusing rainwater at its sites, measuring and analysing its greenhouse emissions and using a wind turbine at its head office to supply 30 per cent of its factory power needs.

Garry says Cookers offers a national footprint with nine depots across Australia and the same service model and offering available around the country. He says that Cookers will continue to evolve its business to ensure it keeps pace with changing industry practices and expectations.

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