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Common Inventory Management Challenges for Food & Beverage Distribution

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Inventory Management is one of the greatest business process areas food and beverage distributors struggle with. Why? Balancing a warehouse of inventory while also trying to keep up with FDA regulations and policies can be difficult without the right systems in place. Here are a few of the most common inventory management challenges for this industry:

Responding to Product Recalls

There has been a steadily increasing requirement in the entire food and beverage industries to have full control and traceability of products from “farm to fork”. It is one of the most common challenges within the food and beverage distribution industry. Product and ingredient traceability is necessary to comply with strict USDA and FDA regulations ensuring that anything harmful can be located immediately. With our ERP software, we can help you develop and implement a real-time tracking system allowing you to efficiently implement an effective recall. Taking these precautions is necessary to provide peace of mind and build your credibility, trust, and loyalty with consumers should a recall occur.

Tracking Stock Count and Planning Replenishment

Software that allows you to stay on top of your inventory with automated data collection solutions that track bin location, lot numbers, expiration dates and inventory movements in real-time, ensuring inventory accuracy and lot control is an absolute necessity in the food and beverage industry. Not only is inventory under strict control, but your ability to allocate products for customer orders can also be far more precise when inventory is handled in real-time. Reaction to changes in demand will be improved, thereby allowing you to maximize order fill rates.

Maintaining inventory accuracy is critical, and being able to easily cycle count groups of products will help you insure the accuracy of your inventory.  The benefit of cycle counting small groups of products permits enough time to analyze root causes of any variances. Root cause information can be used to make process improvements, so that inventory accuracy will continue to improve over time.

A comprehensive ERP system for small and medium-sized businesses such as SAP Business One includes “Smart Forecasting” as one of the analytical tools used within the planning system.  This tool significantly improves forecasting accuracy, so that you can optimize inventory levels, taking into consideration seasonality, previous promotions, etc. to intelligently create a forecast for you.  Planning inventory replenishment in this manner will help you avoid over or under stock conditions, both of which cause revenue losses.

Monitoring Shelf-Life

Inventory management in the food & beverage distribution industry requires time-sensitive attentiveness to resources with short shelf lives. Effectively monitoring shelf life and expiration dates is paramount to avoid revenue loss from spoiled products and ingredients. Distributors need real-time data managed by ERP software to track products by lot and vendor to prevent these losses. This software can enhance and expedite production scheduling while also taking into account expiring ingredients.

Expiration dates and shelf life can be even more complicated to manage when specific customers require longer shelf life for the product to be shipped to them compared to other customers.  With this requirement, it is essential that you can allocate specific lots of product to be shipped to those specific customers.


If you have questions about ERP software for your food and beverage distribution business, the Attivo Group is here to help ensure your business is working efficiently so that is can continue to grow. Give us a call today and schedule a complimentary analysis and consultation at 877-428-8486 or contact us online.

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