Food manufacturers face unique challenges regarding food spoilage and regulatory compliance. Rapid movement of ingredients and products through the supply chain is vital to maintaining profitability. Food manufacturing software relieves many of the challenges of an unforgiving industry.
This guide will help you select food manufacturing software suited to your business:
Food manufacturing software helps you achieve regulatory compliance, maintain product quality, trace food & ingredients, and perform quality control.
A good software package will also help forecast seasonal demand and sort out product recalls.
|Compliance Management||Food manufacturing software creates reports that ensure you’re in good standing with regulatory and governmental compliances including:
2002 Bioterrorism Act - Tracking every product batch and match ingredients with their individual batch number.
Current Good Manufacturing Processes (cGMP) - Keep thorough records of sanitation, staff qualifications, and equipment verification to minimize contamination or errors in the manufacturing process.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) - Track and monitor food storage, handling, and preparation processes to reduce hazard risks and take corrective action as needed.
FDA 21 CFR Part 11 - Ensure electronic records are authentic and secure with digital electronic signatures, validation scripts, audit trails, and additional security features.
|Food & Ingredient Traceability||Record data about individual ingredients, finished products, and packaging including historical location as the products move throughout the supply chain from food production to processing to distribution, as well as dates to manage expiration of ingredients or finished products.
Knowing where all ingredients came from is especially important if something is recalled.
|Quality Assurance (QA) & Quality Control (QC) Testing||Checks random samples throughout the manufacturing process against normal values to ensure the products meet your desired specifications. Reports can be generated to see testing trends and produce Certificate of Analysis documents to prove your good have gone through QC tests. Import customs in some countries require Certificate of Analysis documents.|
|Recipe Management||Food manufacturing software stores recipe information to keep your products consistent, and can encode ingredients if you need to keep your recipe secret. You can also store ingredient substitute info, as well as batch scaling to increase or decrease serving sizes as needed.|
|Recall Tracking||Keeping track of where your ingredients came from and where they were distributed allows you to quickly notify affected customers if specific batches of products were contaminated and need to be recalled.|
|Seasonal Demand Forecasting||Food manufacturing software will track historical purchasing trends, as well as make suggestions for future sales based on seasonal trends. Certain products or ingredients may only be available or bought more frequently at certain times of the year - your software solution will be able to recommend ordering or production dates based on those trends.|
Meet regulatory compliance standards: Food manufacturing software keeps all your data stored and well-organized, and automates reporting, so you can prove regulatory compliance.
Ensure product consistency with recipe management: Recipes are stored within the software system to ensure the right ingredients and quantities are being used. Food manufacturing software also has batch scaling to ensure the product quality is consistent when you need to make more or less of the product. Increased profitability with reduced waste: Food manufacturing software helps you cut down on waste by planning for demand and keeping track of the ingredients you currently have in your inventory, so you don’t have to worry about overstocking or ordering ingredients at the wrong time.
Improved supply chain management processes: Demand forecasting functionalities in food manufacturing software give you a deeper look into current and past trends. Being able to plan purchasing and production based on demand forecasts helps you more accurately determine supply and demand, increasing your ROI.
Manage recalled ingredients or products: Organized, detailed records of your ingredients and products within the food manufacturing software system will allow you to quickly narrow down items that need to be recalled. A recall can be needed if the packaging is mislabeled, allergens aren’t declared, or products were cross-contaminated or spoiled. You need to be able to notify affected customers of the particular product or ingredient that is affected, where it came from, and where it was distributed as soon as you find the issue.
Small to medium businesses: Small and medium-sized businesses should look for software that has compliance management to ensure your business stays within state and federal regulations. Recipe management functionalities are also helpful for small and medium businesses to keep food quality consistent. Your food manufacturing system should also integrate easily with QuickBooks or another existing accounting system. If cost is a concern, some cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) food manufacturing software has a lower up-front cost and a low monthly subscription fee.
Large Businesses: A comprehensive food manufacturing enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution will be ideal for large businesses. Functionalities to look for include demand forecasting, compliance management, food traceability, ingredient inventory control, recipe management, and QC testing. Also, consider a manufacturing ERP software system with human resources functionalities and handles financial management including general ledger and payroll, as well as accounts receivable and accounts payable. Some ERP solutions popular among the food and beverage industry include Microsoft Dynamics GP and BatchMaster ERP.
Constantly changing consumer trends: Diets and health trends constantly changes with each passing year. Consumers are more health-conscious now than ever - they want to know where their food is coming from, are focusing on organic produce, and look for healthier alternatives like using spices to color food instead of dyes. There has also been a shift from fat-free foods to natural foods with high levels of saturated fats like natural oils, full-fat dairy products, and grass-fed meat. Keeping up with consumer trends is especially important for food manufacturers. Your food manufacturing software needs to have demand forecasting capabilities, so you can plan production around consumer trends. The software solution can also keep track of where ingredients and products came from, giving consumers more transparency about their food.
Keeping up with strict regulations: Federal and state regulatory agencies like the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are constantly updating regulations. Keeping in compliance with regulations is vital to keep your business up and running, as well as ensure your food products are safe for consumers. Food manufacturing software handles reporting and keeps track of regulations to ensure you meet compliance requirements.
Labor shortage: According to Food Engineering’s article, “Digitizing the food and beverage work environment”, food manufacturers see staffing issues as one of their biggest challenges. More baby boomers are retiring and as automation becomes more common, it’s becoming more difficult to find workers who are qualified to operate the equipment.
Focus on health: More consumers are focusing on “mindful eating”. According to MarketWatch, organic food & beverages market is projected to grow at CAGR of 14.8% by 2022. Consumers look for product packaging with “free from” claims (like “free from additives or artificial sweeteners”) and healthy snack alternatives. Non-dairy and plant-based meat alternatives are also becoming more popular. Consumers are also more concerned with where their food is coming from, as well as sustainability - it is becoming more important for consumers that manufacturing processes are minimizing environmental impact.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law to shift focus to preventing foodborne illnesses instead of just responding to incidents. The FSMA addresses food safety among different points along the global supply chain. Most businesses needed to be compliant with preventative controls for human food by September 2018. However, extensions allowed for qualifying businesses to push some compliance dates to January 2020. For more information on compliance dates, visit fda.gov.