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Pushing Forward with New Possibilities: ERP Empowers Food and Beverage Businesses to Launch Plant-Based Products

Pushing Forward with New Possibilities: ERP Empowers Food and Beverage Businesses to Launch Plant-Based Products

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Pushing Forward with New Possibilities: ERP Empowers Food and Beverage Businesses to Launch Plant-Based Products

Aug 4, 2021

Jack Payne
A farmer tends to his crops after parking his tractor.

Plant-based foods are here to stay. If there was any doubt in the collective minds of the food and beverage industry, the numbers for 2020 should put them to rest—the plant-based market reached a total of $5.6 billion worldwide, and it’s currently growing at 29% per year. That’s double the rate for food and beverage in general.

As a professional in the frozen and prepared packaged foods sector, that puts you in an interesting place. Whether your business already offers some plant-based lines or is only now beginning to explore the possibilities, new alternatives to traditional meat, dairy and snack products need to be incorporated into your product offerings if you want to keep up with consumer demand.

Many shoppers are motivated by the health benefits of plant-based diets, but 48% have reduced meat intake over animal welfare concerns, and 37% say that sustainability is a major reason for their changes in consumption. By expanding into this emerging area, your business can contribute to all of these worthwhile goals while also appealing to a growing audience.

Of course, rolling out a new product isn’t a simple process. From sourcing new materials to experimenting with variations on your traditional recipes and analyzing the financial viability of potential offerings, you need tools designed for the task.

Thankfully, food and beverage enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions have the features your organization will need to branch into this ripe new territory. Let’s examine some of the key functionalities that can help you roll out new plant-based products to excite and delight customers.

Managing Supply Chain Changes

The options for plant-based foods today go way beyond beef substitutes used in plant-based burger patties. Fresh-caught fish approximated with banana blossoms, egg alternatives made from mung beans and chickpeas, non-dairy ice cream treats and even jerkies made from jackfruit are gaining popularity.

And while it’s exciting that these options are on the table, new ingredients to source means expanding your supply chain, working with new vendors and managing new logistical and contract concerns. That could represent a real headache for an unprepared company, but food ERP systems handle this in a streamlined, simplified manner, making the process much simpler.

The fully integrated database that ERPs offer allows you to enter, maintain and monitor all vital information attached to your new suppliers. Key users will always have access to the details they need to ensure that production of your new plant-based lines can carry on without interruption or confusion.

Food industry ERP platforms also offer excellent demand forecasting so that you know the amount of each ingredient you need to purchase as demand varies over time. With this added level of intelligence, you won’t get caught running low at a critical time, nor will you have excess ingredients left over that go to waste.

Recipe and Formula Management

Your research and development teams will need the freedom to test and tweak many different variations as they try to find the best plant-based products for your brand to bring to market. ERP solutions designed for the food and beverage industry offer the complete recipe and formula management that will empower them to approach the task with both creativity and pragmatism.

From fine-tuning amounts of certain ingredients to trying out something entirely different from your normal offerings, these platforms give your employees the control necessary to perfect the taste, texture and appearance of everything that comes off your lines. You’ll also be able to integrate with connected sensors and scales to carefully monitor your results and act on your findings to further improve.

Keep in mind that there’s still much to be discovered in the plant-based food world, but you’ll never know what’s out there if you don’t equip your best minds with the tools necessary to research and explore the space. It might take many iterations to land on the ideal product, but bringing truly innovative new alternatives to retail will have a tremendously beneficial effect for your business’s reputation as a leader.

Traceability, Food Safety and Sanitation

Introducing new ingredients into your facilities can come with additional challenges should any of them have allergen or other food safety concerns. And even though most plant-based products deliberately avoid any of the eight major allergen risk foods (dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, seafood and shellfish), there’s always a chance for contamination when you’re dealing with new suppliers and materials.

The traceability features of food ERP systems give you total visibility over every stop along the supply chain for all of your goods, down to the lot number. That lets your staff isolate and contain any potential problems, and it also keeps you prepared in the case of a recall—you’ll be able to get to the source with all of the detailed data that an ERP can capture.

Purpose-built ERP platforms also help keep your sanitation practices regular and exacting, further reducing the chance that products are compromised somewhere along the way. Automatic scheduling and on-screen reminders ensure that workers carry out their cleaning tasks thoroughly and on time. You won’t have to worry about any residue or by-products of your regular lines making it into your new plant-based products.

Robust Yield and Financial Analytics

Diving into the dynamic new sector of plant-based foods and beverages is exciting, but your organization can’t sacrifice efficiency and profitability for the sake of novelty. You need to know whether the new products you’re testing are feasible, both from a production standpoint as well as on the financial side of things.

Food ERP software comes with robust yield reporting tools that give you granular information on just how much you’re getting out of your materials and processes. You’ll be able to refine your approach from there and ultimately determine whether a new plant-based offering is suitable for your situation.

Sales and margin analysis tools are also key parts of ERP built for businesses like yours. With in-depth analysis, you’ll be able to break down what’s working and what’s not in terms of dollars and cents. It’s likely that your plant-based products will be more expensive to produce and will thus carry a higher price tag at the store. Finding the right balance between costs and revenue will be critical, and technology is your best ally on that front.

Navigating a New Market with Confidence

All told, ERP platforms offer a suite of features that make developing and perfecting new products much easier. As you consider the directions your business can take in creating new plant-based lines, critically assess whether you’ve got what you need to put them in a position to shine while also maintaining your current offerings.

Aptean Food & Beverage ERP was designed with decades of industry experience, as well as the unparalleled accessibility and reliability of Microsoft Dyanmics 365. Between dependable support, guidance during implementation and options for cloud-based deployments, our solutions can be made to suit any situation.

If you’d like to hear more about what Aptean can do for your food and beverage business as you pioneer into plant-based products, contact us today.

Tell us about yourself and an Aptean specialist will be in touch.