Frontline Insights on Food Safety
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May 22, 2019

Frontline Insights on Food Safety

Unpacking the Top Supply Chain Challenges Uncovered at the Food Safety Summit

By Kelly Smith

At Ashton Potter, we’ve made it our mission to always remain on top of food and beverage’s toughest challenges and priorities. Yet, in today’s food and beverage landscape, such obstacles are changing faster than ever, continually being reshaped by evolving consumer demands, added layers of supply chain complexity, and rising compliance requirements.

Our history as the “go to” resource for secured data and labels allows us to deliver the complete solution to food and beverage companies. However, we also recognize that best-in-class solutions must be shaped by frontline insights from those working day-in and day-out in the field. In that spirit, we are happy to share some of the insights from our recent attendance at the Food Safety Summit, a symposium that brings together industry leaders to shed light on top challenges and solutions in food safety.

Let’s unpack some of the industry’s top priorities, as uncovered at the Food Safety Summit:

Quality Control

First up is quality control. Quality in the food and beverage space is multi-faceted, comprised of multiple objectives including consistent farming and manufacturing practices, high quality ingredients, food freshness, and safety. The importance of quality is at an all-time high, with consumers and heightened competition both putting pressure on manufacturers to raise the bar. But controlling quality and its many subparts is more complex than ever before, particularly as emerging models like co-manufacturing and an increasingly distributed supply chain introduce new challenges around visibility, consistency, and control.

In order to transform quality into a true differentiator while maximizing efficiency and throughput, today’s food manufacturers and producers must be able to affirm consistency, freshness, and safety for each individual product—even as there are billions of products in circulation. This requires a scalable and robust data framework that leverages serialization and stakeholder involvement throughout the supply chain—from the field, to the factory floor, and beyond—to build a record of quality for every item. Food manufacturers and producers can then involve consumers in the quality equation by serving up product insights down to the ingredient with a single scan.

Unfortunately, the lion’s share of supply chain management solutions only solve part of the equation, with data categorized holistically by farm or by factory, rather than by ingredient or by product. This is because many solutions lack the scalability and granularity needed to track items on an individualized basis, instead opting for a bulk-labeling approach. Such solutions fail to address the holistic quality control requirements of today’s food and beverage companies.

Individualized Optimization

No two companies’ demands are the same. With today’s manufactured food landscape reflecting a diverse cornucopia of consumer tastes, never has this been truer than now. From the food items produced, to the farming and manufacturing practices used to produce them, to nuanced security and compliance demands, to myriad suppliers, partners, and distributors, to existing enterprise and manufacturing systems, each food and beverage operation has its own requirements.

Yet, according to industry leaders, the majority of the systems on the market provide cookie-cutter capabilities. While these systems offer the potential for a minor tweak here and there, they are relatively inflexible when it comes to functionality, workflows, and reporting.

While a one-size-fits-all approach may work for smaller, simplistic applications, it can’t satisfy the needs of today’s complex food supply chains. Rather, food and beverage companies need solutions that can be configured from the ground up for their unique requirements, challenges, standards, and objectives. While vital, the configuration of capabilities, processes, and data outputs must also be efficient—completed quickly and without disrupting throughput.

ERP Integration

The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is integral for control and optimization of the food and beverage manufacturing environment. However, when it comes to providing individualized insight into product quality, safety, and security, the ERP alone simply can’t get the job done.

That’s where product security technology comes in. While a critical pillar of the food and beverage technology landscape, a product security solution mustn’t operate in isolation. Instead, these solutions must integrate seamlessly into existing ERP systems, augmenting and extending functionality with real-time insight into the global supply chain. At the same time, the integration process cannot slow down production timelines, nor can it over complicate the process for the employees who must use the solution. While there are many systems available on the market, few are able to deliver seamless integration without disrupting existing processes.

The Ashton Potter Answer to Food Safety Demands

At the end of the day, the 2019 Food Safety Summit was a resounding reinforcement of what we already know: today’s food and beverage supply chains require specialized solutions in order to affirm food safety at scale. In addition to offering core functionality, the right solutions must also account for food and beverage’s unique demands—from understanding quality gaps, to addressing nuanced operational realities, to working with existing technology in a seamless way.

At Ashton Potter, we’re addressing the industry’s top-of-mind challenges and priorities with ProLinc, our SaaS-based product security and traceability solution, which is optimized to deliver tailored insights and control to even the most complex food and beverage supply chains.

It’s time to fill in the missing gaps in your supply chain. Contact Ashton Potter today to get started.

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