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How Fresh Produce Businesses Can Take Full Advantage of Their Data

How Fresh Produce Businesses Can Take Full Advantage of Their Data

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Explore Fresh Produce ERP

How Fresh Produce Businesses Can Take Full Advantage of Their Data

Dec 30, 2021

Jack Payne
An array of colorful fruits and vegetables.

Every business, regardless of the industry it operates in or the nature of its operations, must deal with data. Your fresh produce company is no doubt inundated with facts and figures related to your products, processes and finances—but are you getting the most out of it all?

There’s tremendous value in information. The fact that professionals participating in IDC’s Global Food and Beverage Industry Trends and Strategic Insights whitepaper commissioned by Aptean named big data and analytics as the technology that will have the greatest impact on the food and beverage world over the next 5 years says a lot about how critical good data management and analysis is now and will be in the future.

The ability to break down the seemingly endless charts and tables and synthesize actionable insights is where the real payoff lies. This step, when carried out correctly and thoroughly by technology designed for the purpose, can lead to significant improvements across multiple facets of your organization.

Let’s take a look at how good data collection policies and thorough analysis of your information can impact several crucial areas for fresh produces businesses and what role enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions play in this equation.

Better Traceability and Food Safety Outcomes

When you have complete bidirectional traceability along your supply chain, you can feel confident that you’re doing all you can to ensure the completeness and accuracy of your data while safeguarding your operations from food safety emergencies. That being said, achieving this level of visibility is almost entirely a matter of establishing regular and consistent logging of ingredient and product information every step of the way.

ERP systems facilitate this process through the use of automations and integrations, particularly those with barcode and QR code scanners that can capture a large amount of information in one go. Meanwhile, the data collected is piped into a single, unified database shared by the entire organization, guaranteeing that the numbers your employees see on the screen are correct.

This represents a huge leap forward in efficiency, as manual record-keeping methods can be cumbersome and are also prone to issues of memory and human error. With a platform built specifically for the purpose of data management, your employees can attend to other tasks and get more done while the backend handles the rest.

“There are measurable efficiency benefits,” says Robert Oldershaw Jr., director for Aptean client Moulton Bulb Co. “Traceability of product, for example, can now be done in a quarter of the time. The information we now have at our fingertips and systems we have in place will help us grow the business.”

At the same time, with this more rigorous approach to traceability, your fresh produce business will be more prepared to handle contaminations and product withdrawals. Should an issue occur, tracking it back to the source is much simpler with truly complete information, and purpose-built food ERPs can even automate some portions of the recall process to ensure it’s taken care of as quickly as possible.

“Traceability of product, for example, can now be done in a quarter of the time. The information we now have at our fingertips and systems we have in place will help us grow the business.

Robert Oldershaw Jr.DirectorMoulton Bulb Co.

More Accurate Inventory Management and Precise Forecasts

Being able to rely on the accuracy of your inventory figures is another critical consideration for companies like yours. You need to have a clear picture of the quantities in stock for each of your varieties if you want to be able to meet demand while also minimizing the waste that comes from unsold, spoiled products.

What’s more, the seasonal nature of the fresh produce sector requires that you understand and can predict surges and drop-offs in demand based on the time of year and current weather conditions. Thankfully, industry-specific ERP systems can deliver on these fronts with dedicated inventory modules and powerful forecasting tools.

With automated scanning of shipment labels upon receipt, an ERP can update your inventories in real time, ensuring you always know exactly what you have on-hand. This same step also captures all relevant freshness data, including ripeness and expiration dates, which is so vital for quality, taste and appearance in the fresh produce world.

“Having a real-time system made a massive difference for our stock management,” says Jon Pollard, business unit director for Aptean client Produce World. “Previously, we were lucky if the stock was accurate once a day. Now, it is always up to date.”

On the predictive analytics side, fresh produce ERP platforms are equipped with features that account for past sales data, consumer trends and seasonal spikes to inform your planting, ordering, production, sales and distribution. That, in turn, allows you to align your inventory with expected demand, ensuring that you get the most out of what you’ve grown and purchased.

Increased Efficiency and Profitability

The time-sensitive nature and short ordering cycles of the fresh produce segment put a premium on your organization’s efficiency. You’ve got to be able to deliver your fruits and vegetables at just the right time to appeal to today’s discerning consumers, who expect nothing but the best in terms of color, texture and flavor for their fresh foods.

A produce ERP can calculate metrics to help you understand what processes are going as planned, as well as those that are suffering from inefficiencies due to equipment, staffing or material issues. That way, you can intervene and iterate on your methods to achieve better output volumes and do more with less in terms of manpower—directly impacting your profitability.

“Aptean Food & Beverage ERP has increased our productivity and reduced issues on the shop floor,” said a dispatch manager at Aptean client G’s Fresh. “A supervisor was previously working 11 hours a day, but we have now reduced his day down to nine hours. I’d estimate that we are saving £700 a week in reduced labor costs alone.”

Another way that a fresh produce ERP system can boost your profitability is by cutting back on financial losses through expired and unsellable products. We mentioned the ability of inventory management modules to track freshness data, and the right platform can keep your decision-makers apprised of freshness windows and help enforce a first-expiry, first-out (FEFO) picking method to make sure the right items go out at the right times.

Finally, think about what it would mean if you could drill down into your profit margins, sales records and input prices to identify both your best-performing offerings and those that are lagging. An advanced food ERP has the analytical tools to dive deep and really find out what’s working and what’s not, allowing you to tailor your lineup according to what will drive revenue.

Transform Now for the Fully Digital Future

The above sections cover just a few of the ways that data can be harnessed and used to realize better results—there are still more, including features geared toward understanding consumer preferences, AI-driven quality analysis applications and tracking your environmental footprint. What unites them all, though, is the prerequisite of having a solid system in place to leverage all these tools.

At Aptean, we champion ERP solutions as the foundation of digital transformations, and for good reason. These platforms have become the gold standard, the bedrock beneath your operational architecture upon which all your teams and departments rely for information and critical tasks.

Our leading solution, Aptean Food & Beverage ERP, deserves your consideration for a number of reasons. There’s the Microsoft Dynamics 365 framework that unlocks all the latest updates and integrations, flexible cloud deployments with 99.9% uptime or better and our proven track record with thousands of successful implementations to date.

There’s also our professionals’ in-depth food and beverage industry knowledge and deep understanding of the challenges faced by fresh produce companies like yours. And just recently, we were awarded with Frost and Sullivan’s 2022 Product Leadership Award in North America for ERP software for the food and beverage industry.

We’re ready to be a partner and guide on your journey so that you can take full advantage of your data and put all the latest technology into practice at your organization. So, what about you? Are you ready for what’s next? Contact us today to learn more about Aptean Food & Beverage ERP and what it can do for your company.

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