SugarCreek: Brandworthy Food Solutions

Cooperative Food Supply Chain Logistics in the Bacon Business

Posted by Jim Coughlin

Jan 18, 2016, 1:00:00 PM

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From sustainability concerns and rising costs to the need to improve infrastructure and even cope with product safety and recalls, improved communication and transparency with vendors can help your business manage some of the most common logistical concerns. The need to meet a complex set of consumer demands in a timely manner makes improving supply chain efficiency a must for the food industry, in general, and for bacon brands, in particular.

Disruptions in the supply chain can have a devastating impact on your bottom line — a look at how McDonald’s coped with recent port shutdowns and the resulting concerns about food safety and supply reveals just how large of an impact a supply chain disruption can have on even the biggest brands. McDonald’s didn’t cause the slowdown, but by not having a backup plan ready to go, they were ultimately forced to reduce their customer offerings and heavily impacted by the shortage. Better communication with vendors, coupled with increased insight and transparency could have helped the fast food giant avoid a costly disruption.

3 Ways to Cut Your Supply Chain Disruption Risk

1. Improve Data Sharing

How quickly will you know if your vendors have a problem — and when the supplies you are depending on will not be available? By forging better pathways for data sharing and management, you can more quickly identify a potential problem. Using real time data to effectively track items from the farm to the table allows vendors to pinpoint problem areas and ensure that the chain is not interrupted. If you are not fully equipped to read and monitor data from suppliers, you could be surprised by a shortage or disruption. Choosing vendors that are able to provide key insights into the process and timing of your product could help you avoid a costly disruption.

2. Increase Transparency

Increased transparency into the ways your products are being processed, and into any problems experienced in transit, can help you pass on a better final product to your customers. Gaining knowledge and insight into the process and learning about any issues with sustainability, safety or availability of key items allows you to come up with strategic ways of coping with shortages or disruptions.

Supply problems come from a variety of causes — anything from the weather to failures in technology. You can’t predict everything or prepare for every possible problem, but by increasing transparency, you get a better look at how the chain you are relying on works and become better able to anticipate challenges. The only thing worse than dealing with a break in your supply chain is dealing with a shortage or disruption without any notice or clue that a problem is heading your way. Regular onsite visits or audits can provide valuable insight into the process and help boost transparency and understanding.

3. Enhance Communication and Agility

Improving agility by clearly communicating upcoming needs and demands can help your vendors supply you with what you need, when you need it. By communicating your needs well, you are equipping your suppliers with the information they need to provide the items you need in a timely manner. The more forthcoming you are and the more accurate you are about your upcoming needs, the better. Open communication about expectations and improve efficiency as you source the items your customers rely on and demand on a regular basis.

A careful examination of existing vendor relationships and the way you communicate can reveal what areas you need to shore up if you want to protect your supply chain and avoid costly disruptions. Having a plan for anticipating and coping with shortages or supply chain disruptions can help you keep the products your customers want and need in stock and ready for purchase.

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Written by: Jim Coughlin

Topics: Supply Chain