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 In a highly demanding and competitive produce industry, pressures on produce growers, distributors and suppliers have never been greater.

With stringent food safety regulations and the need to deliver high quality produce amidst lack of visibility into the supply chains, the produce industry has become vulnerable to recalls, damage of brand reputation and consumer backlash. Therefore, supply chain transparency is critical to ensure compliance and traceability into all aspects of the business operation that helps improve operational efficiencies and drive business growth.

By leveraging the right ERP solution, produce companies can optimize their supply chains, gain greater visibility into the business processes, streamline operations for better batch management, achieve quality control, improve shelf-life and gain traceability from field-to-fork.

Here are three ways ERP can significantly improve your supply chain transparency:

Complete lifecycle, field-to-fork traceability

Produce quality assessments and other data for supplies, ingredients and materials need to be fully trackable from production through delivery, storage, production processing, distribution, and consumption. Systems and resources involved include transportation fleets, warehouses, refrigeration systems, production lines, and specialized machinery such as in-process contaminant monitors.

There are many opportunities to avoid omissions and automate traceability by furnishing equipment, vehicles, refrigerators, and storage systems with connected sensors on the internet of things (IoT). Live data from the IoT can then feed into the ERP system for real-time review and analysis. Companies can store their data and findings in the cloud that can be provided to relevant stakeholders such as auditors, trading partners, and customers, anywhere anytime, with secure access to subsets of the information and reports.

Supply chain controls

Not only do produce companies have to keep track of their ingredients and raw materials, they also need to be able to ensure if their domestic and international suppliers’ qualifications and vendor certifications are up-to-date to make certain that they are in compliance with the regulatory mandates. Suppliers should also make their quality management processes transparent to enable traceability in all aspects of sourcing, distribution and production. The providers of packaging, printing, and other ancillary products and services need to be included in the supply chain control.

With a connected ERP system in place, companies can manage their supplier data along with the vendor quality assessments and transaction histories. The system can also support and document everyday ongoing communications and agreements with trading partners.

Ensuring compliance and maintaining quality


Produce companies need to ensure that their supplies, intermediary products, and final products comply with all regulatory mandates for food production and distribution in the markets and countries where they do business, as well as industry and organizational quality standards. Some quality measures may not be strictly required to meet regulatory requirements, but are nonetheless critical in maintaining the product and brand value and thus maintain competitive advantage.

Modern ERP systems can provide an effective framework for tracking changing regulations and managing compliance and quality along with substantiating data and reports. By analysing the quality and compliance data companies can take preventive actions in case deviations from the applicable standards occur.

Put Columbus produce industry and ERP experts to work for you

Ready to take the next step? Columbus produce industry clients include leading enterprises that embark on global transformation initiatives as well as growing organizations that look for greater efficiency and wants to boost their business viability.

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Since the romaine lettuce contamination just before Thanksgiving, the produce industry has been abuzz with discussions of the increasing incidence of supply chain contamination in recent years. In a study released by the United Public Interest Research Group, it was reported that food related recalls are up nearly 10% between 2013 and 2018.  While the article does allow that improvements in the science and increases in testing since implementation of the FSMA as a factor, it also noted that there were significant gaps in the food safety system.  They list four areas where improvements could be made to increase the effectiveness of the food safety system. 
A dairy producers quality assurance and quality control activities are impacted by a number of governmental regulations and their markets desire for a good quality product. Of course, there is a cost to these activities, in dollars and time. The goal of skip-lot sampling is to limit the number of lots from a supplier which are required to submit to sampling, or quality control. The pace which “limiting” occurs is setup in the dairy producer’s skip-lot formula.
With the continued threat and reality of food related illnesses and product recalls, food safety remains a high priority for consumers and produce processors. Today’s health conscious consumer not only prefers higher quality ingredients, but also an end product that meets their dietary preferences.
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