Inventory control can be difficult at any time. It becomes even more challenging when you’re a food manufacturer preparing for busy holiday seasons. Especially when not all seasons are equal, the length of which can vary from a weekend to weeks-long summer breaks. Show-days, festivals and even a grand final weekend can influence spikes in consumer demand of certain goods.
Processed food industries also face growing competition from international imports and a need to constantly innovate to remain competitive. Food manufacturers are progressively adopting new product development strategies to target specific holidays.
For this strategy to be successful however, food production processes need to easily adapt to each new product and be capable of seamlessly transitioning from one seasonal item to another.
Food trends and fads can be fickle and short-lived, the flavour in favour now, can be different to last month and different again the following month. We all know limited time offers are a successful tactic to drive consumer demand, therefore it’s reasonable to expect this tactic can be equally beneficial to holiday periods.
Limited time offers can effectively reduce the risk of food manufacturers overproducing perishable goods which can prove costly to a company’s overall profitability.
New product development should always be consistent with customer feedback and market research for it to achieve a holiday win. Food manufacturers can choose to invest in R&D to develop innovative new tastes and flavours or identify existing products they can easily adapt and transform into a lucrative new product offering.
There are many variables that motivate consumer purchasing behaviour and even the weather can play a part in influencing the types of food consumers will demand. Switching is a routine consequence of changes to normal temperatures. Depending on your product range it may be pertinent to consider historical weather records as part of your data analysis, before producing inventory stock for holiday weekends.
Adjusting inventory control to change
The challenges of producing sufficient inventory stock to meet demand on seasonal products is an issue that impacts manufacturers but also suppliers and distributors. Therefore, good supplier relationships and a flexible supply chain are crucial during peak holiday demand.
Adjustments to manufacturing inventory can also be unrealistic on a large sale and may increase pressure on the supply chain. They are better situated to an effectively integrated supply chain with a coordinated approach that standardises how seasonal products are identified.
Digital resources like food manufacturing software can help the industry effectively manage the seasonality challenges of inventory control. Critical success factors for optimising supply chain efficiencies include the ability to deal with surges in demand, expedite the re-order process, handle high volumes and ensure timely deliveries that benefit the entire supply chain.
Food manufacturers can be better equipped to survive the effects of holiday seasons by harnessing food manufacturing software systems, manufacturers can improve inventory control processes, from ordering inventory stock through to production and distribution.
Predicting which food trend will become the most popular in any given holiday season is not an exact science. However, the better the understanding a company has of demand planning and forecasting, the more profitable the business will be during peak seasons.
The right food manufacturing software can assist demand planning by providing sales information and historical data that improves forecast accuracy for both existing and new product offerings. Food manufacturing software can also be integrated with purchase order management systems to deliver a rapid re-order process.
Manufacturers who develop long-term strategies, improved data-gathering processes and technological proficiency will adapt more successfully to holiday season variances.
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.