Keys to Building a Bulletproof Food Supply Chain Management System
Changing suppliers can be a risky business for food and beverage manufacturers, especially when the switch is unplanned or rushed. But how exactly should food manufacturers protect their food supply chain to maintain its quality and safety – especially as recent supply chain issues force businesses to look further afield for new suppliers?
Icicle Technologies Founder and CEO, Steven Burton, recently presented a webinar on “Bulletproof Food Supply Chain Safety,” hosted by CIFST (the Canadian Institute of Food Science & Technology). In the presentation, Steve walked viewers through the precautions that food manufacturers must take when changing suppliers, and how automation can be used to make the switch stress-free.
Effective supplier management needs to be capable of addressing heightened risks associated with food supply chain disruptions, from the increased risk of food fraud to shortened shelf life and decreased product quality. In this post, we introduce two case studies from the webinar that illustrate how automation technologies have changed the game in the food processing sector (notorious for thin profit margins that leave little room for error). You can request access to the on-demand webinar here, and scroll down to see our Supplier Management Checklist for five keys to a bulletproof food supply chain.
Recently, global events have caused a perfect storm of supply chain issues – the pandemic lockdown took down the global economy while the ongoing Russo-Ukraine War caused energy and commodity prices to soar. Transportation costs rose to unprecedented levels where in some cases the cost of shipping containers across the Pacific Ocean rose from $2000 to $20,000. Inflation and labour shortages are ongoing and many countries are suffering from economic crises. All of these events have caused major disruptions to the global food supply chain that continue to affect food manufacturers.
In 2023, however, at least some of those supply chain stressors are starting to ease. Smart manufacturers are learning to stay ahead of future disruptions by diversifying their suppliers, which may involve maintaining a list of alternative companies and even alternative ingredients for particularly high-risk products. One member of the Icicle community of users, Voyage Foods, is even developing sustainable, alternative products for beloved ingredients like cocoa and coffee beans that are likely to continue to be affected by climate-related supply chain disruptions.
At the same time, working with new suppliers also carries risks that could introduce safety hazards and quality issues into your supply chain. What you need are mitigation strategies for integrating new supply chains into your business – and they need to cover a range of issues that are all important to your bottom line.
Mitigating Food Supply Chain Risks from Food Fraud and Traceability to Quality Control
As soon as you have to cross state or provincial borders to purchase your ingredients, you also need to meet higher standards for traceability as well as perform threat and vulnerability assessments for bioterrorism and food fraud. Food fraud costs the global food industry about $10 to $15 billion annually; in one shocking report from 2016, the CFIA found that 20% of all sausage products contained meat from other animals that were not listed on the label. Products like oils, spices, milk, coffee, tea, fish, saffron, juices and honey are also susceptible to food fraud. At its worst, food fraud can trigger recalls that can end up being extinction-level events for companies along the supply chain.
Supply chain disruptions don’t only enhance the risk of food fraud because of the heightened potential for financial gain; they also add stress to companies that lead to hasty decisions in order to keep production on schedule. Shipment delays could cause ingredients to be used before they’ve been sent for lab testing. In the best case scenario, the ingredients come back with no issue, but what happens if they don’t?
On the other hand, what if you have to look farther afield for new suppliers and end up with lengthened lead times for your shipment? Being short on ingredients can delay production and also take a bite out of the shelf life of other ingredients you may have in stock, which in turn cuts into the quality and profitability of your finished product. That’s why the second webinar case study focuses on temperature abuse and the ways in which automation technology can mitigate the risks of spoilage as well as limit your liability for spoiled inventory.
Supplier Management Checklist: 5 Keys to Protect Your Food Supply Chain
Supply chain disruptions heighten the food safety risks of the entire supply chain, but automation technology gives you back the competitive edge you need to face the future with confidence. Icicle ERP’s automation technology (especially of business process automation) brings together capabilities from across your company to satisfy the five key things you need to protect your supply chain:
- Can you quickly identify alternate suppliers when you need them? Automated supplier certification management (combined with Icicle ERP’s database of suppliers) ensures that all suppliers have the necessary documentation and that all vendor assessments are completed on time with automated tasks, notifications, and renewals.
- Is it easy for you to swap out ingredients across multiple different formulas? Icicle’s dynamic formula modeling allows you to make changes on the fly while maintaining your traceability records – all in real-time and in one place.
- Can you do a hazard analysis to maintain your food safety documentation even as you switch out raw materials? Whether it’s HACCP plans or letters of guarantee, automation technology enables you to easily produce any document you need from any secure device with internet access. Having up-to-date electronic records at your fingertips in real-time improves the efficiency of audits and increases company trust.
- Can you streamline or fully automate routine tasks for greater efficiency and accuracy? Automating workflows to require approval and verification steps adds a necessary layer of security for your traceability chain. A centralized system not only sends out alerts when something is out of range, it enables you to do things like block employees from issuing a purchase order to unvetted or unapproved suppliers.
- Do you receive alerts when things go wrong, so you can respond right away? Integrated supplier management software ensures communication across departments so you can get ahead of problems before they become Problems. Plus, automated data management also delivers in-depth insights that you can use to evaluate supplier performance, from fulfillment rates and lead times to safety or quality incidents to pricing changes.
Download “Bulletproof Food Supply Chain Safety”
Changing suppliers can be a daunting task, but automation has got your back. With an arsenal of features such as continuous data tracking, paperless documentation, supplier management, verification features and safety assessments, automation ensures that your supply chain remains bulletproof to potential risks from supply chain disruptions.
Register for our on-demand webinar on Bulletproof Food Supply Chain Safety to learn more how automation can protect your business from major supply chain issues.
Contact us directly to learn how Icicle combines all of these features and more into a single platform so that its users can elevate their business to the next level regardless of what challenges come their way.