May 21, 2019

4 Tips for Fresh Produce Spoilage Reduction (Part 2/2)

In our previous article in this series, we tackled everything one would need to know about food spoilage: What it is, what causes it, and why it is such a global problem. But how exactly can food spoilage, particularly within the supply chain, be reduced or halted completely? The amount of fresh produce and food in general that never reaches the consumer is absurd and needs to be dealt with.

Luckily, there are very direct things that can be done in a supply chain in order to reduce the amount of food waste occurring today. And almost all of them involve improving data logging. At this point, I'd recommend taking a look at the first post of this two-part series if you haven't already. If you already read it, please go on.

What is data logging?

Data logging or data management is extremely important when it comes to improving how food is ordered, put through inventory, and how transparent the supply chain is.

In typical supply chains, data logging is extremely poor. The longer it takes to get information on the conditions of the produce we’re transporting and storing, the harder it is to avoid errors that will lead to food spoilage, which obviously translates into financial losses.

4 tips for fresh produce spoilage reduction

Training employees at all levels of the supply chain and providing incentive schemes can really improve how businesses and operators in the supply chain operate, thus reducing food waste. However, the more attractive and innovative solution to food waste is the implementation of digitization to the supply chain.

Digitalizing supply chain data can directly lead to reducing excess inventory, improving order cycles and variation, and provide shorter delivery lead times. These four elements of digitization could be the most effective ways to improve how to supply chain operates.

1. Data monitoring

We talked a little bit about what data management is at the start of this article, and monitoring stems from that.

Data monitoring allows for three main solutions to problems often seen in produce supply chains:

  1. It helps provide accurate historical data. Effective demand forecasting depends on having accurate data, and it also helps to reduce too much ordering or subsequently unmet demand. Historical data can be integrated into existing ordering tools to make ordering products easier. It can also increase transparency.
  2. It involves the use of live point-of-sale (POS) data. It's worth noting that data monitoring technology can only use POS data after the team is assured of the overall accuracy of the data. True, live POS information can absolutely help shorten information lead time, so a supply chain can become quite a bit more responsive to fluctuations in demand.
  3. It can automate orders. Historical data paired with live POS data can create an ample opportunity to automate orders in the present, in real time. Automation allows businesses to get past issues that are related to batch ordering, which can often cause an overabundance of inventory and spoilage in food supply chains. Automation technology has a grand potential here because ordering activities often take up considerable time and resources. So not only will automation reduce food waste, but it will also improve the time and money spent on batch ordering.

2. Tracking products

Product tracking involves having digital records for entering and removing products at each and every stage of the supply chain. It can help track the “first in and first out” needs of fresh produce, which will overall decrease the inventory age, then reduce shrinkage, then reduce food waste and spoilage.

If supply chains can implement tracking their products live to ensure properly anti-spoilage management, they can assess errors in transportation or temperatures throughout the supply chain.

3. Collaboration and visibility

Integrated collaborative forecasting is another major aspect of data logging technology that could improve how much food gets to our tables.

This element addresses increased order variation often caused by rationing and shortage gaming, as well as lengthy transportation lead times. Integrating data systems for collaborative forecasting increases a business’ visibility during transport, and it significantly reduces the risk of overstocking throughout the supply chain.

The benefits of visibility of supply chain partner forecasts can really extend to the actual physical chain, allowing for shortened delivery times since deliveries won't need to be as flexible. If there's one take away one could have from data monitoring, it's that it creates the visibility and accountability that is sorely lacking in the food supply chain.

4. Maintaining the cold chain

The two biggest causes of food damage and spoilage involve high temperatures in transport trucks and shock damage that leads to produce bruising.

Without effective temperature monitoring and shock detection in transport trucks, it's no wonder that so much food arrives at supermarkets only to be destroyed right away because of spoilage.

Businesses in the transport portion of the supply chain tend to think about speed and speed alone. But speed is not the only factor in food waste preventions-- it’s also temperature and overall care.

Digitalizing temperature control and integrating it into an accessible controllable system is the best way to make sure that food is being properly chilled to slow decomposition. Investing in an efficient cold chain monitoring is the first step.

Just as well, shock impact monitors can be implemented into trucks as well as fleet management in the harvesting and packaging stages of the product's life cycle. When we think about food spoilage and food waste, we often think about simply "wasted" food that spoiled because of temperature, time, bacteria, etc. But another big aspect of food spoilage is bruising. Think about it: If five-hundred pounds of bananas in a truck crossing an entire state is constantly jumbled, knocked around, and poorly secured, do you believe they will arrive at the supermarket fit to eat? Shock detection devices allow for improved operation efficiency by detecting whether a physical shock or impact has occurred to a product in transit. This can measure average product damage during transportation and supply data that can lead to reducing that damage.

Did you enjoy this article? Take a look at our blog posts with similar themes,Logistics: the Invisible Industry, Three Reasons Data Logging is Vital for Your Pharma Company, Logmore Co-op Case: Artekno Smartbox and of course, the first post in this two-part series, Food Spoilage is a Bigger Problem Than You Think.

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