In our globalised world, the production, sale and supply of food and beverage products has become increasingly efficient and fast. The interconnected web of suppliers, produces and retailers has evolved to make the best use of resources, labour and time.
However, these processes also entail a series of issues for food and beverage manufacturers. Below, we address some key supply chain issues which can become problematic for those in the industry.
Since food and beverage products may be supplied, produced and transported from overseas and handled by a wide range of people, it can be very difficult to ensure that hygiene standards are enforced.
Ensuring that suppliers follow food safety and hygiene regulations, and comply with HACCP is vital for retailers and food brands. Food poisoning outbreaks caused by poor food hygiene and a failure to follow processes can cause illness and even deaths.
Similarly, because these processes are very hard to monitor manufacturers may have trouble ensuring that safety standards are met. A particular threat is that of undeclared allergens getting into food products, such as peanuts. Mistakes like these can be fatal for customers, and fatal for your brand image.
Likewise, since many of the processes involved in the supply chain, such as supplying, producing and transporting food and beverage products may be carried out in a wide range of locations, managers may find it difficult to ensure their products are what they say they are. Because it is very difficult for managers to monitor their products at all times and in all places, they run the risk of selling products which aren’t what the customer has ordered. The horse meat scandal of 2013 provided a high-profile example of the impact of fraud in the supply chain.
These issues can cause serious damage to a manufacturer’s brand and reputation. Ultimately, any problem with the final product as it is received by the customer will come back to the manufacturer. This is the case regardless of whether the supplier made the mistake across borders or whether there was a hold up in overseas transportation times. This not only causes major damage to brand reputation, but also means a company is legally liable for the consequences. Serious food poisoning outbreaks could result in multimillion pound fines and jail terms for staff and managers involved.
While HACCP is the basis of almost all safety systems in food manufacturing, currently the majority of HACCP monitoring relies on pen and paper-based checklists and lists of activities that staff have to undertake at certain times throughout the day. Although this provides a record of what is going on, it is time-consuming to fill in, hits productivity and it doesn’t provide a real-time view for managers about what is happening.
We suggest switching to digitised monitoring by using technology such as wireless sensors that automate the continuous monitoring of temperatures and interactive, handheld devices that guide staff through checks. This way food suppliers can increase efficiency while ensuring they are compliant both with HACCP and the processes laid down by their customers.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.