Stefan Benfield, Raw Material Manager

Department: Purchasing Macro Raw Materials

“The world of raw material buying involves interacting with global commodity markets including currency and shipping. There were major fluctuations during the Covid-19 outbreak and we all gained valuable experience in dealing with the unexpected"

The raw material team

“I joined ForFarmers 8 years ago in 2012 as a Raw Material Manager. Prior to this I worked for a global food corporation in trading and logistics roles and have completed 20 years of service.”

“We have a pan-European department and altogether there are sixteen of us. Looking more closely at the department, fourteen members of staff are buyers and two are category directors. There are three buyers in the UK, three in Poland, one in Germany and the remainder of the team are based in The Netherlands.”

“I have two buying colleagues in the UK and each of us are responsible for a wide portfolio of raw materials. Due to the nature of our backgrounds, we are a highly qualified and experienced team. We work well together and communication underpins our effectiveness. We often speak several times a day to discuss market and production matters.”

“There is also frequent in depth dialogue with our continental purchasing colleagues, to share knowledge and best practices”.

“We work closely with the UK formulations team and inbound logistics to ensure we capture the most value from each raw material in our rations. We then have to retain this value through efficient logistics.”

Stefan Benfield

Never a dull moment

“No day is the same and there is never a dull moment. Within my role, I am responsible for the purchasing and management of a portfolio of feed raw materials. As a team we have to ensure continuity of supply of high quality materials and service to our mills, whilst at the same time buying at the best value prices.” 

“My work day normally starts with checking the raw material stock and cover reports to ensure our purchase position is where it should be. Once this is done I begin reading daily global market reports to get a feel for how the market will be trading. After that there is a multitude of tasks, from managing individual raw materials to attending conference calls with colleagues to discuss markets and strategies.”

Building relationships with suppliers

“I spend a lot of time talking to suppliers on a daily basis to achieve the best prices, service, new innovations and information. This is only possible when you have close working relationships with suppliers which results in win-win partnerships.”

“Being involved in the fascinating world of global commodity markets gives me the opportunity to talk to a wide range of people. I’m also very lucky to work within a great team of knowledgeable colleagues who always find time to provide support when needed.”

Impact on raw material markets

“The world of raw material buying of course involves interacting with global commodity markets including currency and shipping. With the recent outbreak of Covid-19 there were major fluctuations where we saw several issues over the continuity of supply and volatile prices, followed by a downturn in global demand. By working together with other departments across the business and by having the benefit of long cultivated strong relationships with key suppliers, we kept any impacts caused by the outbreak to an absolute minimum. I have pride in saying that the teams, including formulations and inbound logistics, worked really hard and from a raw material perspective everything was and remains completely under control.”


Commitment and a clear goal

“I’m a firm believer that hard work, commitment and a clear goal can and does bring rewards. I began my professional career in electronic engineering but after a year moved into a research and development technician role. After a few years, I joined a large multinational trading company and with hard work, I was able to work my way up to senior roles within the trading department. I now really enjoy working at ForFarmers, there is diversity within my role and I work within a very strong team.”

ForFarmers culture

“When I was deciding to join ForFarmers, I was attracted by the suitability of the role but also of equal importance was ForFarmers dynamism, commercial success and the company’s responsible attitude towards agriculture, its customers and global sustainability issues.”

“ForFarmers provides effective training for the specific role you do, but also provides support for any further training you feel you would like in order to either enhance your effectiveness in your current role or to progress your career further.”