Fulfillment & Third Party Logistics Blog

Food Product Fulfillment: 3 Ways to Protect Perishables

Getting the right product to the right location at the right time is crucial in any type of supply chain.  However it is absolutely critical when it comes to the fulfillment, distribution, and transportation of perishable goods.  Each partner in the supply chain from producers to distributors to retailers needs to have specific inventory strategies to ensure the safety and quality of each item.  Here are three ways to safeguard your perishable food supply chain.

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Food Supply Chain Technology: Increasing Warehouse IT

In an industry where time is of the essence, implementing measures that increase speed and efficiency are taking a much higher priority.  The main way companies are achieving a more streamlined supply chain is through technology.  A recent survey performed by Zebra Technologies Corporation showed that over 40% of IT and warehouse operations professionals cite shorter delivery times as a key motivator for technology investment.

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Food Logistics: How Global Factors Impact Risk

It is official; eggs are now more expensive than chicken. The U.S. Department of Agriculture cites that more than 47 million birds have been affected by the avian outbreak in the United States, almost 16% of the domestic egg laying population. Obviously, this is putting a tremendous strain on the egg supply chain, forcing the importation of eggs from Europe for the first time in over 10 years. Logistics Viewpoint recently published an article detailing exactly how this recent avian flu outbreak is impacting the egg supply chain. Read the article here.  

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Food and Beverage Supply Chain Technology Security

Think of all of the different passwords you type each day. One for your work email, personal email, bank account, to get into your phone and don’t forget about logging into Facebook, Pandora and Netflix. There is no denying the importance of data security today with the massive amounts of personal information we store and access electronically. It has become fairly routine, simple and effective to manage our personal access points on our different devices, but when it comes to the expanding Internet of Things (IoT), supply chain management is much more complex.

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The Food Supply Chain: How Will the Food Modernization Act Impact It?

The food supply chain can be a lot like a car.  When all of the parts and processes are working and in rhythm, all is good; however, when a problem occurs in any single, isolated piece, it can spell trouble for the entire vehicle.  A flat tire, a dead battery, a failing transmission.  All of these issues can keep a car firmly parked until the issue is addressed.  The multiple exchanges within our food’s supply chain increase the potential problems between the farm or factory and our plate or pantry.  In 2011, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law, with the focus of preventing contamination, instead of reacting to it.  The December issue of Inbound Logistics discusses what this means going forward in terms of food logistics.  To read more, click here.

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5 Ways a WMS Can Improve Your Food and Beverage Company

The time has come to finally clean out the menacing, wooden behemoth that has become your desk.  As you sift and sort through mountains of paper, piles of folders and disorganized heaps of phone chargers, camera batteries and ear buds, you discover something quite valuable and long forgotten.  Tucked away in an envelope, quietly resting is a gift certificate to the best steakhouse in the city.  It somehow got lost in the shuffle, but now this gift from an occasion you can’t quite remember has made its presence known.  While dreaming of the beautiful evening and amazing meal that is in your near future, you peel open the envelope and scan the pertinent information, but one glaring, disheartening fact jumps off the page.  This gift certificate became null and void over three months ago.  If only there was a system that made it possible for you track, manage and monitor the status of such an important asset.  While there are trays and file cabinets for your desk, fortunately there is something more sophisticated for your food and beverage logistics; a warehouse management system, or WMS.

While losing the opportunity for a free steak dinner can be disappointing, there is much more at stake within the food and beverage supply chain.  In addition to health and safety concerns, operational costs and efficiencies must also be balanced in this competitive sector.  Implementing technology to control costs and streamline operations enhances visibility and food safety.  This is a critically important strategy within the warehouse of food service organizations.  To optimize this critical hub, a warehouse management system can be a game-changer..  Here are five ways that leveraging a WMS can improve your food and beverage fulfillment operation.

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Traceability in the Food Supply Chain

You just logged into your eBay account and strategically placed the winning bid for the putter you’ve had your eye on for months.  In only a few short days, your golf bag will receive the final piece of the puzzle and your odds in the approaching club championship just improved.  So as you scrub, shine and polish the other residents of your cart bag in anticipation of your newest addition, you can search, refresh and track each step your putter makes on its way to your doorstep.  From the desktop in your office to your phone in your pocket, the location of your purchase is at your fingertips.  The ability to trace your order from a warehouse 1,200 miles away to your mailbox is an incredible thing.  The traceability available in the food supply chain is, however, more complex.

When you consider the multitude of elements that make up the ingredients that comprise our food supply chain, it is staggering.  Add in the wide ranging destinations from which they originate, and maintaining visibility becomes quite challenging.  The importance of food safety spans much farther than your bottom line. The ability to track a food product to its origins is essential in effectively enforcing a recall, as well as controlling and preventing an outbreak.

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Food Logistics: A Focus on Safety

According to Statista 86% of Americans are seriously to moderately concerned about health or safety related food recalls.  And rightfully so, considering that many foodborne illnesses are potentially lethal, including salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and even Hepatitis A.  As a core concern of American families, there is nothing more important to preserving your brand image than maintaining a safe and clean food supply chain.  Do you remember the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA)?  In 2008, they were forced out of business shortly after it was discovered that they were the cause of a major salmonella outbreak.  More than 700 people became seriously ill.  9 people died.  The PCA underwent Chapter 7 bankruptcy and is still fighting civil lawsuits in court to this day.  The damage didn’t stop there either, but extended to retailers who used the peanuts in their products.  PCA had distributed contaminated peanuts as raw goods for companies such as Kellogg and Walmart, costing the two retailers over $70 million in recall related expenses. This may be an extreme example, but it is an eye-opening anecdote illustrating the potential impact that poor oversight of your food supply chain can have.

As you can see, it is not enough to control what happens inside your facility.  Your suppliers and vendors are also responsible for the safety of your products.  In recent news, a Chinese meat processor came under fire for selling expired and contaminated meat to popular fast food chains, including McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell.  Already, Yum! Brands, owners of KFC and Taco Bell, have announced huge losses of sales and a 5% slump in their stock.  As you can see, it is not enough to oversee your own operations.  It is crucial to have oversight of your supplier’s operations in order to ensure that what comes in the door is safe. 

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The Importance of Quality Food Logistics

The alarm goes off at 6:15 a.m.   Just like every morning you hit the snooze button.  At 6:24 a.m. it goes off again.   You rub the sleep out of your eyes and your morning routine begins.  Dressed and ready for work, the only thing you need on your way out of the door is your morning coffee.  Freshly brewed and waiting in your favorite travel mug, you reach into the refrigerator to add a splash of milk.  As you lift the cap from the half full milk carton, an odor fills your kitchen and you quickly realize you’ll be taking your coffee “black” this morning.  Checking the expiration date, you begin to pour four dollars’ worth of milk down the drain five days earlier than the dairy promised you.  Now your morning, much like your milk, is spoiled.  Realizing there is going to be a ticked off 4 year old who can’t have chocolate milk coming down the stairs any minute, you quickly head out to the office.

When it comes to managing the supply chain of our food supply, there is absolutely no margin for error.  Timely and accurate delivery is just one key element.  Having the resources and abilities to handle and maintain the quality and integrity of food products affects everything from your brand image, to your retail partners to the end consumer.  The American Consumer Report in 2013 shows that 84% of people that experienced a prematurely spoiled product immediately changed brands.  This is a powerful and scary trend when you consider that Marketing Metrics shows that selling to a new prospect has a 5%-20% success rate versus 60%-70% for an existing patron.  It is much more expensive and difficult to bring a new customer into your fold.  Continuing to provide a quality product can also create efficiencies.  A 2% increase in customer retention can have the same effect as lowering costs by 10% according to Emmet & Mark Murphy’s Leading on the Edge of Chaos.

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