The success of a food manufacturing company generally relies on how well an organization manages the safety and profitability of their product. When it comes to the safety and profitability of manufacturing and processing, there are few areas of focus more important than ingredient management. Companies need to have a strong process in place to manage ingredients throughout delivery, storage, processing and shipment. If bulk ingredient management is neglected, you risk ingredient spoilage, workflow bottlenecks and product recalls. Below, we highlight the key functions you need to focus on in order to have an effective bulk ingredient management program.

Scan and track upon arrival

Once purchased ingredients have arrived at your facility, scanning is of the utmost importance. There are two different ways that you can go about this, depending on your relationship with your supplier.

  • Shared tracking system: You are perhaps already working with your suppliers using a common tracking system. This means that you are able to scan the same codes that were originally supplied by your suppliers. This is a great way to ensure that all expected materials are delivered, the proper source information is accounted for and your suppliers know that the material deliver is confirmed.
  • Your own system tracking: Not everyone can work within the same system of suppliers. In this case, you will have to apply your own barcodes. While this doesn’t present the same fluid workflow between companies, you’re still able to account for the full shipment being delivered, include all the important information related to the ingredients so they go to the right part of your facility and track materials’ progress throughout production.

Accurate tracking aids in sorting and delivery to different areas of the facility

Depending on your production schedule, some ingredients will be moved to production right away, while others will be heading to storage. That sorting process relies heavily on the information found in your tracking system. The system indicates when the ingredients are going to be used, what the shelf life is and what kind of storage is required in order to maintain freshness. Without applying this information to materials prior to production or warehousing, sorting ends up taking more time, slowing down production times and delaying ingredients on their way to storage. Ingredients may also be sorted incorrectly leading to wasted materials and incorrect ingredients making it to the production line.

Production and formulation

During production and formulation, it is important to know what ingredients are on hand and how quickly they are being used. This is best handled through adhering to the recipe management program in place and continually measuring the formulation and outcome of production, ensuring that the proper amount of ingredients have been allocated.

In terms of bulk management, using recipe management data provides a visual for both the amount of  ingredients being used, and the velocity in which they are being consumed. Having this kind of visibility allows you to direct additional, unused ingredients to storage or ensure that more ingredients are ordered, both in a timely fashion.

Traceability

Having a plan in place to manage ingredients throughout delivery, storage, production and shipping means that you’ll be able to accurately track those materials. Traceability is key from a safety and risk mitigation standpoint. The better handle you have on your materials, the less likely that allergens and other contaminates can get mixed into the wrong batch.

Being able to accurately trace materials also means that in the case that a product recall is necessary, you will have a headstart in identifying the affected materials and alert your customers of shipments that need to be removed from shelves and sent back. Being able to act quickly in a recall situation is crucial to the success of a food company. With quality bulk ingredient management in place, you’re able to accurately account for materials and get working on problems quickly to minimize the damage to your brand and the costs associated with product recalls.

Utilize software to improve ingredient management

As listed above, accurate and consistent ingredient management is key to running a safe and profitable food business. In order to reach that level of management, you’re going to need the best tools available. We highlight ingredient management as well as a number of other functions in our Beginners’ Guide to ERP software.