China Calling (October)
China is one of the main growing areas in our ingredient category, serving as the first part of our supply chain. While all ingredients are processed at our finished goods production facility in Illinois, the Silva-China division of our company and partners in China are an integral part of Silva. Each China Calling newsletter contains the latest updates from the field.
Silva-China Team Continues to Grow
We are pleased to welcome Shiae Jiang to our Silva-China quality team. Although he joined us just four weeks ago he has already settled into his new role. Shiae Jiang holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and Technology and is very familiar with quality management systems.
As part of his training, he will work alongside Rodrigo Nunez, our Silva-China General Manager, for several weeks. Currently, both are based in Inner Mongolia. To the right we see Rodrigo explaining the principles of carton liner inversion, a piece of equipment made in China as instructed by our Silva-China team. The unit ensures packaging inversion immediately before filling.
On a personal note, Shiae Jiang got married only six months ago and is a keen supporter of the English Premier league. His favorite team is Liverpool and one day he hopes to attend one of their top grade matches.
Shu Yanan, a Silva International agronomist based in China, has been working with several of Silva’s raw material supply partners in China to develop a more sustainable agriculture program.
Silva International has always taken environmental issues seriously, but over the last few years has worked hard to formalize this program. Here we see Shu Yanan standing next to one of the biodiversity areas we have created where indigenous species are monitored, protected, and encouraged.
To the right, Quality Director Roger Clarke provides education on the processing of celery to Shiae Jiang, Shu Yanan, and Alesha Benedict, our Vendor Quality Assurance Manager based in the U.S. It was Alesha’s first trip to China, having been with the company just since January. Alesha, who holds an associate’s degree in Agriculture Business, a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Science, and a master’s degree in Education and Interdisciplinary Studies with Agriculture, said she found the experience informative and important as we continue building relationships with our partners in this region.
Production Trials and Supervision
On a regular basis, a member of the Silva team will be asked to undertake production supervision. This may be driven by customer request or, as in this case, the fact that Silva wanted to enhance the manufacturing of this raw material.
To the right, Silva’s Johnson Jiang undertakes some drying trials with one of our partners. The goal was to upgrade some of the equipment and, with Silva’s help, we believe the new upgrade will produce better quality material and help this facility reduce drying time.
Integrated Pest Management
As readers will know, we have had an Integrated Pest Management for several years now. The latest development is conducting trials on a new type of electronic fly killers.
In the foreground you see one of the solar powered electronic fly killers used to help prevent insect attacks on the plants, which then reduces the need for chemical intervention. In the background, Silva’s agronomist is reviewing the effectiveness of the unit with the local field agronomist.
Raw Material Facility Auditing
With the Silva-China team now consisting of six people based all around China, Silva has the ability to engage with key partner facilities on a monthly basis. We incorporate facility auditing along with development. If need be, we stay with a partner location for several days to help them implement the procedures that Silva requests.
Here Silva’s Johnson Jiang and Shu Yanan review with a facility manager the changes that we require to make this metal detection process more robust.
Transportation of freshly harvested material to the dehydration site always brings its challenges. In countries such as China, the farmer will want to use whatever packaging is available. Woven polypropylene packs are quite normal, but damage and holes often bring the risk of fiber contamination. A system we are testing currently is one that involves sending food grade blue boxes out to the farm to be used as the transportation packaging. Not only can this help reduce contamination risk, but it also protects soft vegetables, like these tomatoes, from getting too damaged in transit
With all her years in agronomy you still cannot take the farm out of the country girl.
During tomato harvesting Silva’s Shu Yanan just could not resist getting back into a tractor.
Working Hard and Some Fun
As mentioned earlier, this was Alesha Benedict’s first trip to China and it was a long and busy one. The primary purpose of her travel was educational so she can help support our raw material partners in this region. Alesha will provide valuable assistance to Silva’s quality team in China to ensure they are informed of the latest requirements directed from the corporate office.
We could not let Alesha go through Inner Mongolia without experiencing a traditional meal: plenty of lamb (not her favorite food) and some of the local wine. During traditional meals, participants receive blessings from a Mongolian entertainer and are given blue scarves for good luck.
We also see Shiae Jiang being encouraged to join in the singing (but we found this is not his strongest quality!).
Not Long Now ...
As pretty as a flower, Silva-China quality team member Zhang Li is in her final weeks of pregnancy. She is due to give birth on November 10 and we wish her, and her husband, Rodrigo, all the very best for the future. Rodrigo says he is trying to get as much sleep as possible now, as he knows what the future holds!
- Ni Hao from the Silva-China team