As a food and beverage manufacturer, you know that lacking control over your ordering, storing, producing, selling and distribution tasks (a.k.a. inventory management) ushers in a number of challenges. Now, take those challenges and add in the fact that you’re operating in a pandemic-influenced marketplace with ingredient and labor shortages, high inflation and shifting consumer expectations, and you’re facing unprecedented food inventory management complexity.
This complexity makes efficiently producing and distributing high-quality, consumer-pleasing and regulation-meeting products an almost impossible goal. And if you’re relying on manual, paper-based processes or aging software not designed for the food industry to navigate these challenges—well, it’s not a pretty picture.
Today, we’ll explore how modern food software within a comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution can help you overcome today’s overarching marketplace challenges as well as common food manufacturing challenges wrought by using ineffective food inventory management tools.
Common Inventory Challenges for Today’s Food and Beverage Manufacturers
According to Investopedia, inventory management is essentially “knowing when to restock inventory, what amounts to purchase or produce, what price to pay—as well as when to sell and at what price.” Unfortunately, small businesses manually tracking inventory using spreadsheets or legacy software solutions find themselves struggling with data overload, time-intensive deliberations and human-induced errors that make “knowing” difficult.
The result? A myriad of inventory challenges, which our new guide, Tips for Optimizing Inventory Management in Food and Beverage Manufacturing, discusses in detail. Here’s a brief overview of three of the most common challenges:
1. Lack of Real-Time Visibility
Lack of real-time inventory visibility means you don’t have a firm grasp of your stock levels and when it’s time to replenish. With spreadsheets, your team members may be utilizing data that’s not been updated. They may also be using a version that differs from what other team members across the organization are using, causing miscommunication and poor decision-making. Not having a clear line of sight into your inventory nor updated, accurate information leads to over-or-under ordering and inventory spoilage.
2. Excessive Waste
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says food “is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills,” and notes that 63 million tons of food waste was generated in 2018 alone. This is excessive waste, and it’s a well-known, often accepted aspect of the food and beverage industry. Even so, you and other food manufacturers work hard to reduce food waste, but because you lack visibility into your inventory, you struggle to effectively track your inventory’s expiration dates and stock levels.
3. Lack of Traceability
Tracking a food or beverage product’s origin is not only a necessity for recall purposes, but it’s a growing concern for consumers. They want to know that what they’re eating or drinking is safe, and often, that it is sustainably sourced. In fact, if they don’t have this information, they may choose to purchase a competitor’s product. To ensure customer loyalty, you must be able to track sources, locations, delivery dates and more, effectively and transparently—something your pen-and-paper processes and outdated, disconnected technology can’t help you do. But modern food business software can.
How Modern Food Business Software Works
Food business software within an ERP solution provides control over and visibility into your inventory. To explain how it works, let’s take a high-level peek at its ability to address the common industry challenges noted above.
1. Improved Visibility
With food business software, you have the business intelligence tools you need to gather, analyze and disseminate inventory data. You’re able to manage single or multiple warehouses using one, centralized system that offers real-time visibility and updated information into your inventory, which leads to major improvements, including streamlined inventory turns, accurate sales forecasting and stellar business performance—just to name a few.
2. Reduced Waste
The right food business software provides barcoding and scanner capabilities, ensuring you and your team can easily track:
- Expiration dates.
- Contamination threat levels.
- Overstocking issues.
- And more.
The data supplied by the scanners is fed into the system, synchronized and made available to every person, from the shop floor to the C-suite. This all-inclusive distribution of information allows team members to monitor food levels and reduce food waste.
3. End-to-end Traceability
Where your ingredients come from and where they end up is never a mystery with food software. Its complete backward and forward lot-traceability features identify each ingredient’s journey within your manufacturing process, enabling you to monitor allergens and expiry dates, fulfill any audit and regulatory requirements and lets you reassure your customers that they’re consuming a safe, quality-driven product.
Finding the Best Food Inventory Management Solution for You
The best food inventory management solution is a solution that’s been designed from the ground up to meet food and beverage manufacturing’s unique needs. It should also flex with changing market and consumer demands while being an intuitive, easy-to-use system that maximizes productivity in food manufacturing.
FoodBusiness ERP meets all of these requirements and more.
Built on Sage X3 and delivered by food and beverage business and technology experts, FoodBusiness ERP gives you unbeatable inventory management control. The software includes the most commonly used features built for our food and beverage manufacturing customers who are using it to run some of the world’s most respected organizations.
Download the free guide today to learn more about FoodBusiness ERP and for tips on optimizing inventory management. For example, Tip #1 encourages food manufacturers, like you, to evaluate your current practices before jumping into a big, business-impacting decision, such as implementing food software. And Tip #5 focuses on the importance of being recall ready, noting:
Sometimes recalls are inevitable. If handled poorly, a recall event has the potential to cause permanent damage to your brand, so it’s critical you act quickly and ensure minimal damage. With access to real-time data about production and inventory, food and beverage manufacturers can quickly pinpoint where the problem occurred, address issues with confidence and transparency, provide consumer reassurance and mitigate the overall cost of a recall.
Ultimately, FoodBusiness ERP has the features and capabilities you need to control your food inventory management processes from beginning to end. If you have any questions or you would like to schedule a demonstration, contact us today. We’d love to chat.