The Future of Food: Leveraging the ERP Advantage
The food and beverage industry is evolving. Some of the these trends — including the shift to plant-based offerings and the risk of “functional foods” — have been on the horizon for years, while others such as the rapid uptick of food delivery services and meal kits have emerged thanks to changing COVID-19 conditions.
No matter the origin, however, the outcome is the same: Food and beverage manufacturers and distributors must find ways to adapt on-demand and embrace evolution at scale. Some of these changes come down to fundamental shifts in process and performance, but companies can also benefit from the effective use of enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions to help identify potential advantages, improve current operations and implement new organizational strategies.
With a myriad of market moves now underway, let’s tackle three of the most pressing: The intersection of consumers and cannabis, the creation of clean labels and the need for superior supply chain management.
Embracing the Cannabis Combination
Cannabis laws are evolving in Canada — for example, recent legislative changes in British Columbia now make it possible for customers to purchase cannabis products and pick them up in-store rather than requiring payment at the point of purchase.
What’s more, a recent report predicts that sales in Canada will double this year as demand for CBD and THC-infused products continues to rise. From recreational, at-home cannabis use to CBD treatments that can help mitigate the impact of specific conditions in both humans and animals, there’s a massive market just waiting to ignite.
But making the most of this market means creating consumer-focused products that don’t simply deliver the desired dosage of THC or CBD but offer critical guarantees around safety and security. With current conditions now creating the critical need for comprehensive cleanliness, consumers want assurances about what goes in — and what comes out — of any product they purchase.
Here, tools like the Sage 300c (formerly Accpac), Sage X3 Cloud for food and manufacturing companies can help streamline this cannabis combination by acting as a comprehensive risk management and regulatory solution. What’s more, cloud-based ERP systems offer a viable way for companies to manage key formulas and recipes, in turn providing enhanced reliability across the manufacturing process.
Meeting the Clean Label Criteria
Another emerging industry trend is the creation of clean label products — foods and beverages hat contain as few ingredients as possible and use common ingredients that shoppers immediately recognize. In effect, clean labels offer a measure of trust for consumers: What they see on the label makes them feel comfortable and confident about product components.
For food and beverage companies, however, it’s not enough to simply create clean label products: They must also meet consumer criteria of quality and transparency. In Canada, this means ensuring that all labels use common ingredient names where possible, are displayed using specific font types and measurements, include a net quantity declaration and list ingredients by descending order of proportion by weight or as a percentage. Failure to meet these requirements could result in fines or the suspension of food processing operations.
Cloud-based ERP solutions offer access to the real-time data required to ensure clean label conditions are met and clearly communicate accountability and consistency to consumers.
Securing the Supply Chain Connection
Evolving COVID concerns have changed the face of food operations. Restaurants that offered dine-in only service have either closed or made the rapid shift to delivery — which depending on the provider can all but wipe out business profits — while meal kit service demand has skyrocketed as people stuck at home look to secure their food supply.
For food and beverage suppliers, this shift creates a need for agile processes that ensure just-in-time delivery of fresh products that keep for longer periods of time without substantially increasing consumer costs. As a result, supply chain management at speed and scale is critical — companies must embrace the need to reorganize supply chains to prioritize quality over quantity, even as many familiar suppliers struggle to ensure service security.
ERP software provides the essential control that companies need to see where supply chains remain strong, where they’re beginning to fray and where they’ve completely broken down. Cloud-based solutions also empower businesses to integrate key applications with third-party processes to ensure inventory is processed and delivered as quickly and safely as possible.
Food for Thought
Both steady progress and sudden shifts have conspired to fundamentally alter the food and beverage market. To embrace the new normal and maximize potential profitability, businesses need ERP tools capable of embracing key trends — from consumer-facing cannabis to clean label creation and supply chain connections — to bolster customer confidence and ensure continuous compliance.
IWI Consulting group is a Sage Intacct partner with the experience and expertise to help your food and beverage organization deploy Sage X3 Cloud, Sage Intacct and Sage 300 systems at scale.
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