Food to go is usually counter-bought, portable food, in single portions and designed for consumption outside the home. Think sandwiches, fast food like pizza and burgers, and food from coffee shops, petrol stations and convenience stores.
In the UK, the sector is huge – and growing. It’s estimated to be worth £21.7 billion by 2021.
Even small food to go producers and suppliers can benefit from using a WMS for their businesses.
It seems that every few days a food retailer or manufacturer recalls a product due to a safety issue. It’s not always as serious as listeria or E. coli. Sometimes it’s glass or rubber that’s got into the food during manufacturing. But all food alerts need to be taken seriously and a distributor must be able to identify the products concerned.
A WMS can lessen the impact of product recall. A typical ERP system with a basic WMS module will not be able to demonstrate the kind of traceability required for a product recall.
Only more sophisticated WMS solutions, like HighJump, will have the supply chain visibility and traceability of products that’s needed to help food distributors to manage a product recall.
Due to the integration with supplier and retailer systems, a WMS will allow the distributor to accurately identify not only its own stock, but also that of its retailers. This gives the supplier greater oversight of the supply chain and allows it more accountability, by quickly pinpointing which stock is not safe. Whether it’s in its own warehouse, or on the shelves of its retail partners, quickly identifying which batch, lot number or SKU is affected is key to effectively managing a food recall.
Managing short shelf lives
It’s a given with food to go that the produce has a short shelf life. This means stock control standards are paramount – whether that’s in monitoring and managing the best before dates of perishable produce, or in ensuring goods are stored and transported in the right environments.
Fresh produce needs to be delivered to very tight timescales. Consider the lunch-time sandwich trade, for example. Accurately keeping track of stock is key to profitability. If you can’t locate the stock for that day’s orders, then you won’t be able to sell them the day after. A WMS can keep track of stock and assist with actions like cross-docking, to speed up processing of orders.
Using a WMS, consumer safety is assured, and goods are identified and sold according to use-by or best-before dates.
To a food and drink distributor, waste is a big concern. Distributors of other products just don’t suffer in the same way if one of their goods doesn’t sell for six months.
Mastering the management of fresh produce is far easier with a WMS. Checks and audits can be automatically scheduled, KPIs can be implemented and measured, and real-time stock management is simplified.
Supplying new markets
The meal-kit businesses, like Gousto and Hello Fresh, need a constant supply of fresh produce.
They themselves run sophisticated, subscription-based methods and use customer data to streamline their supply chain and increase automation.
A WMS makes fresh produce suppliers better able to link into these meal kit companies, opening them up to this rapidly growing market.
Food to go is needed quickly. So distributors and suppliers that can manage their operations most effectively in this fast-moving business are the ones that prosper.
Speed is needed in both rotating stock and delivering it. A WMS reduces human error and ensures that systems are adhered to. Whether that’s following a first in last out process, or according to more complex rules and inputs.
Fast delivery is needed too. Getting produce to retailers quickly, for them to sell in their peak timeframes, is vital. A WMS will integrate with transport management systems and carrier platforms to give distributors and wholesalers enhanced delivery options.
Are you ready to take your food to go business up a notch?
More and more, food to go is becoming a lifestyle choice in our busy lives. And as its consumption increases, the opportunities for suppliers and distributors are increasing.
If you’d like to explore how to best automate and manage your food and drink warehouse, call us on 020 8819 9071 or get in touch.