The food supply chain has been gaining more attention as consumers are becoming more aware and concerned about outbreaks of diseases and illnesses caused by contaminated food. Food retailers and manufacturers, like other industries, have also become more knowledgeable about the suppliers that they use and where their product comes from. It is better to set up preventative measures to ensure the quality and safety of food, than it is to invest time and resources in recalling items and battling negative publicity. Here are some ways that you can optimize your food supply chain management, so you maintain a positive customer reputation and have a successful business.
Supplier Evaluation and Auditing
Unless your company has its own local supply, you will need to work with suppliers you trust. There is a process to properly evaluating and auditing prospective suppliers. As a retailer, you need to ask them specific questions about food safety criteria, sanitation, environmental monitoring, recall programs, recordkeeping processes, and food defense programs. If your suppliers pass these requirements and you have negotiated a good contract, as a retail you should then arrange an auditing. There are different forms of auditing: you could conduct an internal audit performed by the supplier themselves, or you could hire a third-party to perform the audit for you. Of the two options, the second is the best as it removes any bias from the evaluation.
Choose Subcontractors Carefully
Some suppliers may choose to subcontract work occasionally, which can cause issues within the food supply chain. If a supplier is challenged by financial constraints or production problems, they may be motivated to subcontract work to vendors who may not have the same quality or sanitation as required by the contract. Be sure to keep an open communication between you and your supplier, to avoid any of these issues.
Quality Checks of Imported Food
Food items can be much more affordable when they are imported. Vendors from countries around the world may offer cheaper food products because of cheaper labour and lower regulatory requirements. While this method allows the consumer to receive more affordable food, safety issues may become a problem. The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) inspectors only test a small amount of food that is imported into the country. This leaves vast amounts of food items entering the domestic food supply chain without proper inspection. Retailers and food manufacturers may have a hard time checking the conditions of where food is being produced overseas. It is still your responsibility to conduct quality checks of any imported food you purchase to mitigate any risk of safety issues.
Keep Your Budget Intact
Whether you are working with a third-party logistics company (3PL), or managing your supply chain independently, your budget is one of your top concerns. It can also be a challenge to expand or update your inventory management solutions to grow and profit. Even basic management software costs money and the technology may require frequent maintenance. Therefore, it is beneficial to work with a reputable 3PL company. They will have the proper food supply chain management systems already in place to provide solutions for your business’ growth plan. Inventory management solutions can be customized to suit your strategy, and they can streamline your entire supply chain process so that your needs are constantly met. As your business grows, they can adapt their processes, providing a well-rounded solution to a very important area of your business.
Improve Visibility and Transparency
Visibility and transparency are two very important aspects of your supply chain. To achieve both goals you should implement a transportation management system (TMS) and a warehouse management system (WMS). These tools can help guide you to improving your warehouse operations and labour planning.
Verify Cold Chain Compliance
Newer, regularly maintained equipment can help ensure compliance with cold chain regulations. A reputable 3PL will be constantly up-to- date on their technology and processes, proving this relationship to be highly advantageous to your business. For example, their trucks should have onboard, real time, GPS-enabled tracking devices so that temperatures and distances are measured and recorded as the trailer is on route. This ensures food safety from the point of origin
to the customer.
Take Care of Inventory Management
One of the major concerns for any distribution company of food and beverage is the safety and quality control over the product. Refrigeration, condensation, and shipping timelines are extremely important and critical to sales and safety within the food industry. Some items may require special storage, and specific inventory management. Special software is provided by 3PL providers that allow for streamlined and efficient processing of goods within a warehouse and shipping scenario. For example, barcode scanning allows employees to quickly and accurately identify the content of cartons, and move them to proper storage. Using technology, inventory management systems can minimize clerical errors so that your workers are getting accurate information when they scan an item. These systems also allow for packing and processing directions and clearly delineated picking procedures when it’s time to ship or deliver a product. Inventory can get moved more quickly, accurately, and safely with less loss due to mishandling or spoilage.
Right Deliveries at the Right Time
With today’s customer demand, on-time shipments are a necessity. Stores need to be able to get products onto shelves as quickly and efficiently as possible to encourage customer loyalty. When choosing a logistics partner, make sure that they have strategies in place to allow them to properly plan for seasonal promotions, holidays, severe weather conditions, and other unexpected challenges.
Enabled Efficient Processing
Electronic data interchange (EDI) is becoming increasingly popular in the food and beverage distribution industry. It provides fast processing and an automatic paper trail. The special codes that are used within the software program are scanned and trigger three different actions. This automation speeds up the processing of deliveries and shipments, and creates a higher standard of accuracy, thus limiting clerical errors and providing better time management. Employee hours will no longer be wasted on entering information, processing paperwork, or keeping records up-to-date. This software accomplishes these tasks automatically, so that your entire supply chain can run smoother and more efficiently.
You Can Trust Lean Supply Solutions
If you are looking for contract logistics services or 3PL logistics in Toronto, give Lean Supply Solutions a call. We make ourselves aware of the rising trends in the supply chain and always strive to stay up-to- date. Our 3PL, packaging, and supply chain management can streamline your processes for better success. Lean Supply Solutions can offer consistent, accurate, and quality results by striving to ensure that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, while saving you money. To learn more about outsourcing to our 3PL distribution team, or to ask any questions, contact us at 905-482- 2590.