5 Ways to Promote Consumer Trust in the Food Industry

As a series of high-profile food scandals and scares have progressively eroded public confidence in recent years, consumer protection and the interests of the food industry should go hand-in-hand. Building and maintaining consumer trust is hard. But following a food safety incident or revelation of dubious practices, restoring consumer trust is harder still. The implications for missing the mark in terms of how the incident is handled can come at a high cost from both a revenue and brand perspective. 

While more and more manufacturers are explaining how they source and make products, a significant portion of shoppers remain wary. The human brain is wired to be sensitive to potential risks, therefore bad news spreads like wildfire, and the actions of a tiny minority of rogue suppliers can discredit the entire industry. The reality is that companies invest heavily in optimising food safety, yet very few consumers understand the challenges involved:

Accidental or deliberate contamination 

When our pantry is global, so are the chances of contamination. The majority of food recalls stem from operational deficiencies, and come at a high direct and indirect cost to firms. In undifferentiated markets, where consumers can’t distinguish between sellers of good product and contaminated product, this can result in consumer avoidance of the entire category.

Food fraud – when products are deliberately diluted, tampered with, mislabelled or otherwise misrepresented, or substituted with another product – is a highly lucrative business and often integrated with organised crime networks. But when economic times are tough, the opportunities to cut corners become harder to resist, even for otherwise legitimate businesses, as evidenced by the adulteration of food safety records by a major UK poultry supplier which made the headlines in late 2017. Food fraud also impacts on sustainability, nutrition, animal welfare and human rights, which are becoming increasingly important to consumers.

Food labelling

Food labelling is a huge area of contention: on one hand, consumers want more product information to make informed choices; on the other, they often distrust the accuracy of labels or are confused by them due to inconsistency or information overload.

Fundamentally, consumers’ needs are simple: they want to know they’re buying food that’s safe to eat, and doesn’t harm people or nature. In today’s digital world, relevant information needs to be made available to connected consumers at the time of purchase, particularly online where the shopper is at arm’s length from the physical product and packaging.

Greater supply chain complexity

No food safety system is perfect, but the greater the number of links in the supply chain, the more points available for penetration. Food supply chains are becoming longer and more complex, and therefore more prone to potential disruption. Most food retailers know all their first-tier suppliers, or have a good understanding of those suppliers with whom they have the highest spend, but a lack of insight into subsequent tiers or smaller suppliers means many can’t determine where ingredients are sourced from or how those ingredients are processed or handled.

Establishing the vulnerability of suppliers, especially those operating in higher risk jurisdictions, can be time-consuming unless companies implement ways to monitor and manage increased sourcing complexity. But without effective visibility into the supply chain, businesses can have significant blind spots in their enterprise risk management structure, leaving them exposed to potential legal, financial and reputational damage.

Shifting regulatory framework

The food industry has had to contend with a large number of new regulations and standards in recent years, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, together with numerous national programmes and industry initiatives that attempt to address the issue of food integrity and authenticity.

It’s therefore worth looking to the pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors, which provide a leading indicator of what’s likely to come in the food industry. Several bills and directives have been introduced across the EU and US dealing with pharmacovigilance, such as the use of serial numbers and track-and-trace technologies to prevent counterfeit drugs entering the legal supply chain.

Given the impact of food on public health, it’s feasible to expect to see greater regulatory focus on implementing similar requirements in the food industry.

Amid this complex landscape, food businesses can respond to these risks and challenges effectively, and help to restore consumer confidence in the industry as a whole, by taking five fundamental steps:

Step #1: Promote a culture of safety and quality from the farm to the shop floor Forward-thinking companies develop a culture of food safety through education and communication to ensure staff are aware of the importance of good practices and the controls to be applied. They are also proactively identifying and managing potential risks by analysing data within and beyond their organisation on leading indicators such as customer complaints and media reports. There is a range of nationally and internationally recognised standards for certification relating to product quality, social and environmental sustainability and system and process certification. Voluntary participation in such schemes can enable organisations to provide various assurances as a competitive differentiator.

Step #2: Lead risk-resilient business culture and best practices from the topThe buck stops in the boardroom. Business leaders need greater over-sight of and engagement with food trust issues, and executive buy-in is essential to developing a culture that is relevant and responsive to both current and emerging concerns. Food businesses need not reinvent the wheel, but should instead look to adopt proven practices from similar, highly-regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, to start building transparency and trace-ability into their processes now, rather than waiting to be forced by evolving regulation.

Step #3: Continuously review supply chain risks and benchmark against best practicesBusinesses are held accountable for their supply chain actors’ performance, yet for many, supplier risk management is regarded as something of a tick-box exercise. Regardless of which point in the supply chain may be responsible for a food crisis, customers tend to blame the brand from which it was purchased.

So it’s vital to have end-to-end visibility of the supply chain and carry out regular reviews of suppliers’ food safety and quality standards. Taking a pro-active approach to supplier risk management can pay dividends in terms of product integrity, reducing compliance costs, and minimising the need for product recalls.

Step #4: Make considered investments in technology-enabled solutions – The key to transparency is to capture full and accurate data about product movement. Modern manufacturing, warehousing and traceability solutions are designed to help businesses improve standards, manage risks and provide consumers with better information about food products. Industry-specific solutions are purpose-built to support full compliance with food regulations and guidelines, such as GS1. Real-time visibility enables businesses to pinpoint inventory at any stage of the production or logistics process, and automate quality controls and monitoring from end to end, so any problems can be caught before products make it into consumers’ hands.

Step #5: Focus on consumer transparency and prepare to handle crisis events – If a crisis should occur despite all reasonable endeavours, food companies should be able to support near-surgical recall – getting the minimum amount of product off the shelves at maximum speed. This capability can be developed through scenario analysis, planning and drills, underpinned by robust product recall and crisis procedures. A swift response is also reliant on the availability of data in a suitable reporting format within minutes rather than hours, which can support both the crisis event itself, and open and honest consumer-facing communications after the fact.

As bargaining power in the food industry shifts towards the consumer, we will see the lines becoming increasingly blurred between food safety, health and well-ness, and corporate social responsibility. When risks are well managed, there are opportunities to deepen relationships with today’s connected and demanding consumers, and create the conditions for sustainable, profitable growth in the process.

To understand how Signum Solutions and SAP Business One Food and Beverage edition can support such initiatives as GSI contact us on 01244 676900

10 Reasons your business needs SAP Business One

Signum Solutions understands as a growing business you are one step closer to selecting a business management software for your company’s changing needs. We know this is an important step in your company’s path and one not to be taken lightly.

To aid you in your journey we have listed the top 10 reasons why your business needs to move to SAP Business One. So you can see first-hand how you can significantly improve the way you manage your business.

  1. SAP Business One is affordable
  2. Specifically developed for small to medium enterprises (SME’s)
  3. SAP Business One is designed to grow with your business and can easily adapt to your changing needs
  4. Provides real time analytics ensuring you have full visibility of the data you need to make better business decisions.
  5. SAP Business One offers a wide range of industry specific solutions
  6. ERP solution that is fast to implement, easy to use and needs minimal IT support
  7. Gain fully integrated functionality across your entire business with SAP Business One
  8. SAP Business One gives you a fast return on your investment
  9. SAP Business one is from the word leaderin business applications – SAP
  10. It’s supported by Signum Solutions, Gold partner with SAP Business One Recognised Expertise and industry expert for Food and Drink, Food Service, Chemicals, Wholesale and Distribution and Manufacturing.

 

Your business has a lot of distinctive features. It’s time to make the move and find the perfect software fit for your business, contact your SAP Business One Industry experts, Signum Solutions on 01244 676900 for more information.

Run your business any time, any place – with the SAP Business One mobile app for iOS and Android

Give your entire team the power to accomplish business tasks from their iOS or Android devices with mobile access to SAP Business One.

The SAP Business One mobile app is designed to help your business stay connected, allowing you to gain access to all the relevant business information you require to be more productive whilst out of the office.

Whether your company already uses SAP Business One or would like to learn more, you can try the free mobile app to enjoy on-the-go productivity today.

  • Manage customer and partner contacts as well as scheduled sales activities
  • Get alerts about deviations from approved prices and other significant events
  • Visualise key business information with real-time reports
  • Create or view sales opportunities and orders, and handle service call activities
  • Monitor inventory levels and get detailed product information

Download the free App from iTunes

Download the free App from Google Play

To find out more about making your business run more efficiently call us on 01244 676900 or fill in the form below.

Batch Traceability – Looking for a needle in a haystack

If your business produces products within a regulated industry, batch traceability is of the utmost importance. The reality of “Batch Traceability” is that it is a highly complex multi-dimension issue that touches all parts of the enterprise.

The problem arises, when you have to find the cause to understand the effect, regardless if you’re undertaking a real life or simulated product analysis and recall. Searching through your batch record Big Data, is like “looking for a needle in a haystack”. Visualisation is the optimum way to sift through the data haystack to find the information needle point to increase visibility, reduce the time and cost of analysis to make timely and informed decisions.

Using our SAP Business One – Industry Edition with ProcessForce, provides such a solution for regulated industries, allowing users to quickly understand the batch path (both forwards and backwards) and batch status through the inventory and production flow process and to then drill down to understand the transactional effects and implications across the enterprise.

If you want to know more about how can help, call 01244 676900 or fill in the form below.

 

Another Product Recall. Could Your Business Cope?

This week Sainsbury’s have issued a recall of one of their chicken products, due to a packaging error. Over the past year there have been numerous recalls by all the major supermarkets. Despite regulations and precautionary measures put in place, recalls continue on a regular basis.

Managing a product recall is an extremely difficult and challenging process.  However, having the right Business Systems in place will help you minimise the risk and allow you respond quickly and effectively should your business be faced with this situation.

At Signum we work closely with food companies looking to maintain a robust reliable solution to compliance and traceability. Our SAP Business One Industry Edition for Food and Beverage Manufacturing  is a powerful solution, simple to use and affordable. Moreover, over half of Signum Solutions’ customers operate within the food manufacturing industry, which means that we have a great deal of knowledge and expertise not only in food manufacturing system (MRP and ERP) implementation, but also in relation to the latest requirements of food manufacturing businesses.

Full Story: Food recall

To find out more about how we could help your business call 01244 676900, or click the button below.

Wholesale Distribution- Benefits of a holistic approach to business

The economy is complex and volatile. Customers are demanding. How can distributors thrive? By getting closer to business partners, delivering exceptional service, and carving out a value-added and differentiated role in the supply chain

Wholesale distribution businesses have unique challenges including:

  • The need to reduce operational costs without negatively affecting customer service and satisfaction.
  • Balancing inventory on hand with variable costs and availability to impact profitability.
  • Managing a complex global network of suppliers, warehouses, and customer locations.
  • Developing an optimal product mix that leads to successful forecasting and planning, combined with excellent service
  • Managing a complex vendor cost recovery that can be expensive and slow resulting in money left on the table.

Yet, where there are challenges, there are also opportunities by taking a holistic approach to your business to:

  • Streamline, automate and integrate the Opportunity-to-Cash process to drive revenue growth
  • Collaborate with your supply network not only operationally, but also strategically to drive competitive differentiation and reduce operating costs.
  • Establish flexible capacities in fulfilment to optimise inventory
  • Gaining full visibility into cost recovery, procurement spending, supplier performance and cost-to-serve to increase cash flow.

Save time and money by incurring fewer expenses and running things quicker. By managing everything through one system, there’s only one system to implement, pay for, and maintain. And with all data managed on one integrated platform, you can see how all areas of the business are running, and react faster.

Let Signum and SAP help you to gain a competitive edge. Our solutions address the key priorities that wholesale distributors face: from demanding customers to carving out a value-added and differentiated role in the supply chain. These solutions help your organisation optimise business processes and efficiency at the lowest possible cost.

SAP has working with wholesale Distributors for over 40 years. The world‘s leading wholesale distribution companies, across every major segment of the industry throughout the world, continue to rely on SAP to enable every aspect of the business.

Want to find out more? 

Call us on 01244 676900 or email enquiries@signum-solutions.co.uk

ERPs: Grow Your Business Faster by Running on a Single System

Think enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are just for big companies? Think again.

According to Aberdeen, 96% of best-in-class growing businesses – the top 20% of performers – have implemented ERP solution. That’s a huge percentage – enough to consider ERP systems mission critical to the success of high-growth small and midsize companies.

And when you think about it, ERPs geared for SMEs make perfect sense. You have the same kinds of processes to support as large firms: procurement and logistics, manufacturing, customer-facing processes like sales and support, finance, HR, and more. You can either manage all of this with systems that can’t interact with one another, can’t track business processes, that can’t generate the accurate data you need to understand business performance – or you can simplify with an ERP.

Simplify Work – and Scale Easier – with a Single Business System

ERPs act as single business systems that centralise core business data and support core operations, processes, reporting, and more. They help organisations of all sizes to face their challenges and as a single business system, they support visibility, efficiency, and decision-making. At the same time, they make work faster and easier with automation, seamlessly integrated processes, and easy access to accurate, trusted data.

Take the Business One solution from SAP, for example. The software application integrates all core business functions across your entire company, including financials, sales, customer relationship management, operations, and inventory.

And the benefits, based on surveys of executives at growing businesses with ERPs, are significant and directly related to business growth. For example, they’re seeing:

  • 11% reductions in operational costs
  • 10% increases in profitability in just two years
  • A 48% likelihood that they have real-time visibility into the status of all processes (compared to 6% without an ERP)
  • A four-fold increase in their ability to forecast and plan for demand
  • 633% greater likelihood that they can share data with suppliers, customers, resellers, and regulatory bodies
  • 77% likelihood that they can standardize back-office processes (compared to 22% without an ERP)

In addition, best-in-class growing businesses reportedly can easily find and use the data they need, no matter where they are, to make fast, agile decisions; Aberdeen research shows that ERPs reduce the time it takes to make decisions by 36%! Why? Because the processes ERPs support work from and contribute to a single source of truth to support visibility, efficiency, and decision-making.

Have you thought about running your business on an ERP? Or are you still using point or stand-alone solutions for finance, customer management, HR, and other core operational areas?

I guess the real question is, given the competitive edge that ERPs provide – and their ability to make work and life easier in a small or mid-size business – can you afford not to move to an ERP?

Want to find out more? 

Call us on 01244 676900 or email enquiries@signum-solutions.co.uk

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The Need For 360° Traceabilty

360 Tracability

If you’re part of a regulated industry supply chain whether it’s pharmaceutical, chemicals or food, traceability is a necessary evil. Governing bodies and codes of practice regulate the industry to ensure standards are implemented for consumers, examples include FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 (CFR) and Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) http://1.usa.gov/1mh3QfJ , FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) http://1.usa.gov/1mh36ay  and the BRC Global Standards http://bit.ly/1mh4Vo2

Just saying “Batch Traceability” sounds really easy, but in reality it’s a complex multi-dimension business issue which touches all parts of the enterprise, and should be managed in a holistic manner.

We all hear the term Big Data and its loose definition of large volumes of data, and its related problems with data capture, storage, search, analysis and visualisation to name but a few. But depending on the industry, product, customer and user, Big Data problems tend to be specific to you!

Searching through batch records and other related data can take time, with input from different departments, when trying to understand the cause and effect, when undertaking a real life recall or a BRC audit. But with the paradigm shift created by SAP HANA, data visualization and predictive analytics totally changes the way users consume data and analyse business problems.

Visualisation is the optimum way to view data, dramatically increasing visibility to help hotspots, while predictive analytics can provide early warning of problems before they arrive, thus reducing time and cost to make timely and informed decisions.

An example of Visualisation would be a traceability dashboard or plotting customers with the defective batch on a google map. While for predictive analysis trending customer complaints indicating a potential product re-call.

ProcessForce  provides relationship map visualisation to tackle the topic of batch traceability. For example, it has helped one of our customers, UK food and beverage producer Evolution Foods support their BRC requirements, ensuring  timely compliance within the reporting timelines.

Visit our case studies page and read the Evolution story.

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH: Darren Bevan, Commercial Director – Manufacturing and Export Sales at JDM Food Group.

JDM Food Group has seen exceptional growth over the last 3 years, which during a time of economic instability is extremely impressive.  Find out more about the business and how it has coped with its remarkable growth, from our interview with Darren Bevan:

 

Q: Tell us a bit about JDM Food Group:

A: JDM was established in 2000 and began with supplying garlic products, before expanding into the import and supply of ginger.  Today, the business supplies over 250 food manufacturing sites and is the leading supplier to Tesco for garlic, ginger, sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

 

Q: What does JDM’s customer base look like?

A: We supply to an extremely diverse customer base including: small independent retailers; national and multi-national supermarket chains; food manufacturers and foodservice companies.

 

Q: What makes JDM different to similar food companies?

A: Our focus on innovation and new product development, alongside our partnership approach with customers.  It’s a combination that has helped us to grow 54.49% in just the last 3 years.  We’ve also recently been awarded 82nd place in the Sunday Times Fasttrack 100, celebrating the fastest growing privately owned companies in the UK, which is testament to the fact that whatever our customers want, we always do our best to deliver – whatever they need we will find a way!

 

Q: How has the business coped with such fast and significant growth?

A: We have invested in the right staff and the right processes, including implementing a new ERP system in 2013, to help maintain excellent service and our reputation as a leader in our industry.

 

Q: How has implementing a new ERP system been of benefit to JDM?

A: Without a doubt, SAP Business One coupled with the ProcessForce application for food businesses, delivered by Signum Solutions, has had a major impact on business efficiency and I’m certain that it will continue to do so as the business grows.

 

Q: What’s next in the plan for JDM?

A: As always we are working on more new and innovative products and will be showcasing these at trade events across the country, throughout the year.

Read the JDM Food Group SAP Business One Snapshot. 

 

Contact JDM Food Group:

Contact Darren on 01775 822389 or via email:  darren.bevan@jdmfoodgroup.co.uk or to find out more about JDM Food Group visit the website: www.jdmfoodgroup.co.uk