Best Practices in Food and Beverage Manufacturing
In the food and beverage industry, the last mile is all-important. It’s the difference between wine and vinegar; the difference between ice cream and spoiled milk; the difference between a bag of chips and a bag of crumbs. To stick the landing, businesses need to master the last mile.
That’s especially tough when the way food and beverages get to the consumer is changing so rapidly that it can be difficult to keep up. However, there are some innovative best practices emerging for the new food and beverage economy that can help food and beverage (F&B) manufacturing companies stay competitive and ride the waves of innovation.
1. Partnerships are everything.
In an increasingly diversified food and beverage market with numerous new channels, it’s important for F&B businesses to diversify partnerships as well as products. With the market still in a major state of flux, no clear do-it-all company has yet emerged (although Amazon, as usual, is trying).
Omnichannel presence is absolutely critical to performance in today’s food and beverage market. That means that businesses should investigate partnerships in as many different channels as are relevant to their business model, possibly including:
- Meal Kit services such as Blue Apron and HelloFresh
- Grocery delivery services like Instacart
- Restaurant Delivery services such as Grubhub and Uber Eats
- Ecommerce retail platforoms like Amazon Pantry
- Traditional Brick and Mortor grocery retail
- Non Traditional retail spaces such as Farmer’s Markets and produce CSAs
Not every platform is right for every brand, of course, but being on all of them isn’t necessary. What’s more important is for a business to seek out its customers where they shop and sell to them there.
2. Food safety is an even higher priority than normal.
After multiple high-profile food recalls in 2018, the heat is on manufacturers, retailers and distributors alike to ensure that there’s a safe and transparent supply chain all the way from the field to the consumer. Part of the solution will be to renew focus on maintaining rigorous standards. But another, equally important part will be to leverage cutting-edge technical advances such as cloud-based ERP and blockchain technology to create clarity, cooperation and accountability at all levels of a business.
3. Green technology is available for those willing to do a little extra.
There’s still a long way to go in making green practices the norm in the food and beverage industry, but now is the time when industry leaders (or those who wish to someday be) must forge ahead. In many cases, that means taking the bold first step to embrace a new technology.
One example is the proliferation of plant-based, biodegradable packaging options that keep food safe while also offering an alternative to plastic and other less eco-friendly materials. Some of them even keep food fresher for longer. And while most eco-packaging options are more expensive than conventional options, studies have shown that consumers, particularly millennials, are willing to spend more on sustainable products. So, while green technology remains a significant investment, it appears increasingly likely to pay off.
4. Leverage IT assets to the fullest.
Information technology is also vital for helping food manufacturers compete at every level. That’s why an ERP for food manufacturing system is increasingly regarded as a necessity. These powerful software suites provide numerous benefits for food manufacturers, including:
- Streamlining communication and fostering transparency with vendors and distributors
- Tracking KPIs and highlighting areas for improvement
- Storing, editing, standardizing and sourcing recipes and formulas
- Tracking and monitoring inventory and assets
Bringing all of these elements together is key for making the last mile profitable and efficient, and an ERP system is the tool with the power, the technology and the flexibility to do it.
5. Harmonize the delivery method with the target consumer.
Smart manufacturers can gain an upper hand by packaging food and beverages in ways that make them more accessible and useful to their target markets. This might mean joining forces with a meal kit service to target young urban professionals without the time to grocery shop, or it might mean packaging craft beers in cans rather than bottles to make them beach-friendly. Whatever the format, the old wisdom hasn’t changed: A business should keep its customers in mind in every decision it makes.
As the world’s food and its food distribution systems evolve, so must the world’s food manufacturers. The companies that thrive in the 21st century will be the ones that tame the last mile. And when the last mile gets a little tough, as it often does, Top 10 ERP can help set a business on the right track with unbiased information on top-notch ERP solutions.
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