Sholto Hesketh examines the importance of harvesting data to improve the management of perishable items.
Customers can be fickle. Although they appear to be always on the hunt for a bargain, they will quickly boycott food retail stores that are perceived to have too much perishable stock on sale due to stale-dating or product spoilage. The perception that your stock is old and tired or poorly managed can be very costly in terms of lost goodwill.
The need to ensure optimum freshness and food safety is driving the recent development of systems capable of:
- Managing stock rotation to minimise spoilage and waste
- Monitoring storage and transport environments to prevent accelerated spoilage
- Tracing the source and shipment of foodstuffs that perish faster than expected, enabling corrective interventions and faster product recalls if required
Identification technologies such as laser date stamping of individual eggs and freshness indicator labels on packaged fresh foods are facilitating greater visibility over the age of perishable items.
While this enables the retailer to manage stock rotation more efficiently, it also allows the consumer to bypass items with an older date stamp, leaving them to become stale-dated. The challenge for retailers is to balance the need to sell older stock before displaying fresher items, with the risk of having under-stocked shelves that might drive customers to another store.
Items that need to be shipped and stored in environmentally controlled conditions are at risk of accelerated spoilage if the environmental parameters are breached. This risk can be minimised with the use of sensors that are installed in the storage or shipping chambers and linked to a remote computer or mobile device, enabling a controller to monitor the temperature and humidity in real-time and make adjustments without needing to be on the premises.
Software systems are now able to harvest data from all of these sources and many others, providing a rich and detailed record of the journey and conditions the product has passed through on its way to the store shelf. The challenge for the food retailer will be to manage all of that data in one centralised system to facilitate the cost effective and safe handling of perishable foods, without becoming bogged down in too much detail.
A software systems provider with knowledge and expertise in the food supply chain and regulatory requirements can help design monitoring dashboards that will enable you to optimise the handling and sale of perishable items in your outlets.
Find out more at www.sapphiresystems.com