Why visibility is key for food manufacturers

January 31, 2023
By Zack Noblin

Today’s supply chain is in a unique state. We’ve learned to live with the uncertainly of COVID, seen the impact of global political issues, and settled into what we can consider the new normal for the labor perspective.  

Food manufacturers now have a narrow opportunity to reflect where they can look back at what has happened and consider which learnings, they can make permanent going forward. One obvious conclusion has been that the food manufacturing industry is woefully lacking in visibility across their business. Why? Because before COVID, they did not have to! Food manufacturers lived in a near perfect world where the materials ordered were delivered when they were supposed to be. 78% of executives said that they do not have a real-time view of item level inventory across channels and half of respondents believed they did not have the right platforms and tools in place to support expanded fulfillment options. These executives truly did not know the impact a raw material shortage could have; there was no way to know if they could keep running for a month or an hour. This corresponds with the conversations I have had over the last few years, which were vastly different from any I had in my 20 years in the food manufacturing industry.  

The pandemic uncovered more cracks in their armor, with only 57% of companies claiming they had business continuity plans and playbooks should include triggers outlining actions to be taken across a range of disruptions. During such a prolonged crisis, processes that may not seem essential have blindsided critical operations when they fail. 

Visibility is vital for senior executives to have throughout their business  

It may not be possible to predict a global catastrophe, a recall or facility shutdown. But when you have the right data, you can model potential scenarios throughout your manufacturing process and develop contingency plans to implement immediately for those situations, should they occur.  

Supply chain visibility is important for food manufacturers because it allows them to have a clear and complete understanding of the movement of goods throughout their supply chain, from raw materials to the end consumer.  

Some specific benefits of supply chain visibility for food manufacturers include: 

  1. Identify & mitigate risk: With a clear view into the supply chain, companies can identify potential risks and take steps to mitigate them. Additionally, having visibility of the entire supply chain can help to identify any disruption in the supply chain, and take appropriate action. 
  2. Cost savings: Being able to optimize logistics and inventory management. Having the information on hand to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies means that food manufacturers can take steps to address them, sometimes before they even happen! This ties in with inventory management: visibility into inventory levels, including raw materials and finished products, can help manufacturers to manage their supply and demand, reduce waste, and improve efficiency, resulting in cost savings. 
  3. Food safety: Identify and address potential hazards early on with access to real-time information on the source, location, temperature, and condition of food products. Manufacturers can monitor the quality of products and ingredients, which can help ensure that only high-quality products reach the customer. 
  4. Brand reputation: Having a transparent and well-managed supply chain can enhance a food manufacturer’s reputation and build trust with consumers, regulators, and other stakeholders. 
  5. Increased agility and responsiveness: With real-time visibility into their supply chain operations, food manufacturers can respond more quickly to changes in demand or disruptions in the supply chain. This can help them to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace. 
  6. Competitive pricing: With better visibility on costs, food companies can better respond to necessary price changes or use raw material cost pressures to justify better order conditions with customers.  This is especially true with freight costs.  

Ultimately, increased visibility leads to better decision-making. Supply chain visibility allows food manufacturers to access real-time data on their operations, which can help leaders to make more informed decisions about everything from pricing and production to inventory and logistics. 

A single source of truth with Harvest Food Solutions 

The above points further drive home the strategic need for visibility across the supply chain.  

Especially during uncertain times, with a reduced workforce and decreased availability of raw materials, it is more important than ever to understand every link in your global supply chain. The more links you have in your supply chain, the more vital it is that key players have access to necessary data. Food manufacturers need wide access to up-to-date information to stay ahead of the trends.   

There are transformative technologies for food manufacturers to gain competitive advantage by truly unlocking the value of their data. Harvest Accounting & Operations puts supply chain data in your hands, right where you need it, so you can share consistent and updated data among all stakeholders in real-time. Plan your raw material and packaging needs on-demand, track production line scheduling, manage delivery schedules — all in one place.  

Our solution is built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and takes advantage of the investments Microsoft puts into its products, to provide the unique tools food businesses need at a lower cost, and with minimal configurations. The best part, as a Microsoft product, your users are instantly familiar with it, and it works with the tools you use every day like Word, Outlook, and Excel.  

Maybe you are locked in with one of the food software vendors of the past, paying big support contracts, bigger rates, and dealing with poor levels of support. If you are feeling locked in, making a move to Business Central might provide the best opportunity to get out of that one-sided relationship. Get back to base Microsoft, receive better levels of support. Spend far less money and get far more from it. 

Harvest Food Solutions was created to deal with the specific problems faced by food and beverage manufacturers. If you are interested to learn more about how Harvest can help your food business, then get in touch 


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