Keeping up with increased demand, especially within the food supply chain, is critical for improving trade and future business practices. To keep pace, speakers at the The 2013 Global Trade Symposium at the New York Produce Show and Conference said the time is right to invest in new supply chain technology, according to Perishable News.
"More than initiating new trends, the economic downturn intensified previous trends and increased market pressure," said Dr. Roberta Cook, cooperative extension marketing economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis. "This intense pressure has highlighted the need for investment in information technology and innovation."
Embracing New Technology Improves the Supply Chain
The benefits of technology to the food supply chain are many. Improving inventory and delivery is essential when the product can perish easily. An increased interest in local suppliers and fresher food also requires food supply managers to be more diligent about where their suppliers are located.
More customers are ordering food online, creating an e-commerce market for items that were once purchased exclusively at brick-and-mortar locations. There are a number ways that new tech can help improve the supply chain as demand increases:
- Improved inventory control: Automated data collection can improve the efficiency of inventory by adding increased data points within the warehouse. Ensuring that stock is rotated often and preventing a surplus of perishable items are essential.
- Efficiency: Capturing and analyzing data can help determine slow points caused by suppliers, third-party delivery companies or warehouse employees.
- Traceability: Perhaps the biggest advantage of new technology is increased traceability. Mobile data collection provides real-time updates about the location of products at any point in the supply chain.
Traceability Reduces Costs, Improves Safety and Image
According to RFgen's white paper, "The Food Traceability Survival Guide," government oversight and brand reputation need improved traceability, especially in the wake of a recall. The cost of performing a recall can reach into the billions and even lead to bankruptcy.
A paper-based traceability system can not meet the consumer demand for a recall. Customers expect recall information to be provided within hours and action to be taken on removing the merchandise just as quickly. Automated data collection integrated with an ERP system can track SKUs and serial numbers ensure a recall is as efficient and effective as possible.