Alana Thoms, Senior Formulator

Department: Formulations

Opportunities from the start

Alana at home

“I joined the UK Formulations team in 2016. I had an incredible start to my career with ForFarmers as within the first week I met not only my national team but also our Dutch and Belgian colleagues at a ‘Formulation XL’ meeting in Cambridge. I then joined the Dutch team on their trip back to Holland and had the fantastic opportunity to visit the Lochem mill and some of our colleagues working from the continent.”

“Since working at ForFarmers I have formulated for the Blandford site, Exeter, Burston, Carmarthen and Portbury mills. Each mill and site comes with its own challenges and areas of complexity but I enjoy the variety that it brings to my role.”

“The friendly and welcoming attitude was what struck me most when I started within the business and remains at the core of my enthusiasm for my role and the company as a whole.”

Formulating feed across the UK

“The UK formulations team consists of nine members of staff and we form an important element of the larger European Formulation, Quality and Laboratory department. We also work closely with the raw materials department and as a collective we work towards having the most effective mix of materials at all 10 sites across the UK.”

“As a formulations team we specifically work on the best economic and effective formulations. It is our role to produce a site-specific formula which fulfils all of its purposes. It is a balance between nutritional constraints, sales requests, milling requirements and the overall cost of these parameters.”

“One of the most challenging elements of my role remains finding the right balance between a product’s performance efficiency, its physical quality on farm and its cost to remain competitive within the market. This remains at the forefront of what we do and relies completely on the effective communication between account managers, production managers and us as formulators to ensure we are striking the right balance on all that we produce.”

Working with the mills to ensure quality feed

Variety within my role

“My most routine tasks involve working on requested quotes, managing the next month’s formulation run as well as current month’s formulations. I also check our raw material matrix remains robust and work with the mills production team and the quality department to manage the quality and value of the products produced.”

“What I love most about my role is that although we work to a monthly formulation plan my daily work is incredibly varied and can often lead to a day spent unexpectedly working on pressing projects or having discussions around the business on various subjects that have suddenly become an area of urgency. I love a challenge and to think on my feet, therefore when the department or business is hit with adversity I love to “get stuck in” and help work towards a solution.”

New initiatives

“I have been incredibly fortunate to be involved within numerous projects around the business from acquisitions to nutrient developments and new diet ranges. As a team we have been working towards some new sustainability goals and I have also been developing good working relationships with some of our larger customers.”

“My particular enthusiasm for sustainability and organic produce has grown since working within the business and the opportunity to contribute to the company aims within this field have been wonderful. Recently I have been involved with the development of a greenhouse gas company matrix which develops our ability to improve our raw material sustainability targets.”

Working together as a team

Alana working from home

“Within the UK formulations team we each have our own key accountabilities and mills which we are responsible for. This means a lot of my work and daily communication is with other colleagues and departments around the business.”

“I really enjoy working within our dynamic formulations team, which has a broad mixture of knowledge, experience and interests. It is brilliant to know that you have a fun supportive group of colleagues that you can always rely on.”

Looking ahead

“Throughout my career with ForFarmers I have had the great fortune to visit a number of our production sites, I have become an internal auditor and received an opportunity to take part in an animal feed production course in Holland. I enjoy working at ForFarmers and look forward to seeing what the next few years will bring.”