Perishables Logistics: Racing the Clock

Food manufacturers are constantly battling time.  In most industries products are sellable, even after they have “gone out of style”.  Food producers must play by a different set of rules, governed by the expiration date.  Once the expiration date is reached, that product is obsolete.  In a 2012 report done by the Natural Resources Defense Council, 43 billion pounds of food were wasted at the retail level alone in 2008.

As consumers continue to demand better quality and lower prices, maximizing the shelf life of these products is growing increasingly important.  Below are 3 tips for managing your perishable supply chain effectively.

  • Use lot codes to track expiration dates:  Accurate and timely information creates the ability to make the best possible inventory and transportation decisions.  With lot codes, it becomes easier to manage products in light of their expiration dates.  Visibility into what will be expiring allows you a better opportunity to sell the product.
  • Position your warehouses within 2 days of all customers:  Key locations make it possible to maximize the shelf life of the product.  With less time spent in the warehouse and being transported, a higher quality product can be delivered and available for your consumers.  This also makes it possible for any changes in inventory to be quickly addressed. 
  • Over-communicate with your logistics department or vendor:  It is crucial to relay and share all information regarding sales, upcoming expired products, changes to SKU’s, etc.  The logistics department should also communicate this information back as the data becomes available.  With ample time to plan, volumes can be increased, product destroyed and items nearing expiration can be put on sale.  All of these initiatives can reduce loss (and capture revenue!) as it pertains to expired products.   

With new trends like online grocery delivery services and a growing number of specialty stores, the importance of a lean, efficient perishable supply chain will continue to increase.  Barrett Distribution Centers has the experience, resources and technology to create and implement a customized solution for perishable food producers.  For more information, click here.