Careful management of allergens and organics is increasingly important in the food and beverage industry. Manufacturers must closely manage and track both during the production process to avoid cross contamination, properly label goods, and meet the expectations of customers, consumers, and regulators.
Considering the growing consumer demand for organic and allergen-free products, the payoff for investing time and resources into proper plant management is worth it. People are paying more attention—and a higher dollar amount—in looking for specific products that meet their dietary and lifestyle preferences. If you can reliably produce products that meet those preferences, you can capture their business, build customer loyalty, and remain competitive in your market.
Today, properly managing allergens and organics doesn’t have to be a complex, multi-system process. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with industry-specific features can centralize key aspects of food and beverage manufacturing, saving manufacturers time, reducing risks, and helping them make consistent, quality products with every batch. An ERP system is software that manufacturers can use to manage day-to-day business activities, such as procurement, project management, risk management and compliance, and supply chain operations.
What Complicates Managing Allergens and Organics?
Many manufacturers use disparate systems to manage data and scheduling around allergens and organics, which can lead to inefficiencies and errors and adds time to the process. This process can be complex because you’re relying on multiple systems to coordinate cleaning and sanitation and prevent cross contamination.
If you’re using disparate systems and experiencing these issues, you could face significant consequences if you continue. Your stakeholders are putting your processes under a closer microscope, and they expect you to have full control of them and maintain traceability for your products and ingredients.
What Are the Risks When you Poorly Manage Allergens and Organics?
If you don’t manage these elements correctly and efficiently, there’s more at stake than simply missing out on increasing demand in certain markets. You can also face:
- Penalties for not meeting regulations;
- Poor traceability in the event of a recall;
- Real risks to consumer health, in the case of allergens;
- Lower-quality outcomes for products;
- Loss of customers due to dissatisfaction; and
- Reputational damage due to bad press.
How Can You Ensure Optimal Management?
The most efficient, reliable way to manage allergens and organics is to implement an ERP system tailored to the food and beverage industry. Such an ERP will have features that enable you to:
- Categorize and track ingredients at every point in the supply chain, retaining essential information for management, labeling, and distribution; this will help you simplify and optimize everything from recipe management to batch production management and labeling, so you can avoid risks and maintain high customer and consumer satisfaction.
- Manage ingredient data and allergen information in your ERP to optimize scheduling and production, integrating sanitation processes to avoid cross contamination. You can create classifications and rules around items, noting that they contain allergens or are organic, to prevent errors (such as mixing non-organic and organic ingredients) and to ensure proper labeling.
- Support organic versus non-organic classifications with a warehousing functionality, allowing you to apply specific attributes and rules for segregating materials and storage and inventory processes that prevent mixing and cross-contamination.
- Access full audit trails, with everything in one system, documented and tracked, so that you’re prepared for inspections and audits; customers and regulatory committees may want to conduct inspections and review documentation around maintenance and allergens and organics protocols.
This approach centralizes information and processes into one location. Everything is integrated into a single system and can be used with mobile technologies, helping companies consolidate their multi-system operations for better management and traceability.
Hilton is director of business solutions at Columbus US, a Minneapolis-based organization that specializes in cloud management tools for the food and beverge industry. Reach him at [email protected].