Food & Candy Fulfillment
Supply chain management for food and confectionary products is arguably one of the most critical and challenging industries for the logistics sector. Proper storage, handling, inventory control, product rotation, lot tracking, and transportation are all essential to providing a safe, quality product for the end consumer.
Food retailers and manufacturers are in a race against 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 of its products. Because food is obsolete once it reaches the expiration date, there is an escalated demand for accurate inventory management and on-time delivery.
What are some of the challenges of food fulfillment and supply chain management?
There are numerous challenges when it comes to food product fulfillment and logistics. From inventory control, to product packaging, to state and federal regulations to food grade storage and handling certifications to potential temperature restrictions in the distribution center and during transportation; each step in the food supply chain needs to be managed for timeliness and accuracy.
What are some of the registrations and certifications required for food fulfillment?
Any facility that processes, packs, or holds food for human or animal consumption must be registered with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA’s standard operating procedures include strict FIFO and FEFO inventory management, detailed and system driven reporting and documented quality control procedures.
AIB is another vital warehouse certification. AIB provides food safety audits, inspection, certification, and education for food manufacturers, distributors, and third-party warehouse operators.
In addition, ISO quality certifications can also provide a solid foundation for any 3PL operating in the food supply chain.
What value-added services can enhance food fulfillment?
As in any industry, value-added services can offer many benefits for the manufacturer, retailer, and consumer. For the food and candy sector, seasonal or promotional kitting, gift baskets, sample boxes, and pallet displays can help to diversify your product offerings and increase sales.
How vital are temperature control and conditioned storage?
Temperature control and conditioned storage can be a requirement when warehousing and transporting certain food and confectionary products. The quality and condition of these products begin with the manufacturer and must be maintained throughout the supply chain.
Warehousing and transportation providers need to have the systems, processes, and controls to monitor and comply with any ambient and temperature-controlled requirements. Proper inventory management and product rotation also helps to ensure that your customers receive fresh product in a safe and healthy condition.
Inventory visibility and accurate inventory management are critical services within the temperature-controlled food supply chain. Modern warehouse management systems will help facilitate real-time inventory tracking down to the individual lot code on an item, case, or pallet. This level of accuracy is a minimum requirement when storing or handling food related products.
How is e-commerce playing a role in food fulfillment?
While e-commerce is taking over a lot of the traditional shopping habits of consumers, it isn’t growing quite as quickly in the food sector. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t growing. According to Bi Intelligence, the value of the US online grocery market has grown from $12 billion in 2016 to $26 billion in 2018. There are a variety of benefits that online food fulfillment offers. From convenient access to a wide selection of products to subscription-based services, the opportunity is vast; although it does come with some challenges involving the logistics of home delivery or pick-up in store, accurate pick and pack services, product freshness and packaging of orders that contain fragile or perishable items.
How important is reverse logistics for food fulfillment?
Product recalls are expensive. The ability to maintain an accurate chain-of-custody from the manufacturer to the warehouse to the retailer or consumer is vital to ensure compliance should a recall occur. Third-party logistics providers will often be asked to participate in “mock” recalls whereby on demand or adhoc reports are immediately produced for their customers that show where an individual lot may have shipped, unique lots are put on a systemic hold in the warehouse and cycle counts are initiated to confirm the right inventory quantities are in the warehouse. Efficiently and effectively managing product recalls and returns can not only save money, but it can ensure that recalled, or otherwise unqualified product doesn’t re-enter the supply chain.