How does the food get on our tables is taken for granted, we do not think about all the numerous processes or tasks manufacturers go through to allow us to walk into a grocery store and buy as we wish.
Fremont, CA : While walking down the snack aisle of a grocery store, a variety of chip flavors ranging from salty to sweet to spicy are seen. This explosion f new flavors, variations, and varieties of food and beverage products are great for consumers. The consumers today focus more on food processors rather than just making food available. They want innovative, new, healthy, cost-effective, and environmentally neutral products. These demands act as a driving factor for the food processing industry to adapt and implement changes to stay relevant and competitive. But with 80 percent of the food and beverage processors producing 100+ SKUs, also known as “SKU-mageddon,” it needs a challenging move toward de-specialization that creates substantial issues and significant risks.
It is very evident that de-specialization is the enemy of productivity; here are some of the major challenges.
Inventory- Introducing new products and flavors mean new ingredients and supplies, this adds to the challenge of being in charge of new supplier relationships, new inputs, and a diverse inventory.
Food Safety- The majority of food and beverage production facilities says that food safety expenses are rising every day. Including new inputs, new production workflows, and frequent changeovers adds new risks and new “fail points” for adulteration and contamination within the operations.
Productivity- Regular changeovers results in more downtime, lowering throughput, and hurting overall productivity.
Allergens- With the increase in variety and sourcing of ingredients, the potential for allergens cross-contamination also increases.
In order to deal with these challenges, there are few key areas to focus on for a proactive, risk-based approach to be ready for the SKU-mageddon.
Cleaning Production Tools- It is essential to sanitize and clean the production equipment as it protects product quality and food safety. Although as SKUs rise and changeover become regular, cleaning and sanitization comes into focus-absolutely vital for blocking flavor carryover, as well as allergen cross-contamination and various food safety risks.
Ingredient Inspection and Best Practices- For maintaining the integrity and safety of the production environment inspecting inputs at the entry point is essential, especially with the variety of inputs increasing on the production of a more significant number of SKUs.
Streamlining Sanitation and Food Safety Protocols- When the processing operation grows more complex, sanitization, cleaning, and food safety protocols have to account for this complexity. Companies should review sanitization and food safety programs twice a year and also whenever a new ingredient is added in operation. Special considerations must be made taken for opportunities to simplify or streamline cleaning and sanitation at the time of production changeovers. DE-specialization and increased changeovers are impacting throughput already; therefore, any advantage companies can extract via smarter cleaning and sanitization will bring about a competitive advantage for the business.
The SKU-mageddon is accelerating day-by-day; in fact, launching new products is currently the top growth strategy in the food and beverage industry. But with the challenges of de-specialization sometimes seems overwhelming, the truth is that the leading processors are not dealing with SKU-mageddon alone. They get along with a third-party vendor to deal with a specific pain point, and formulate proactive strategies, to manage the challenges of de-specialization.
The food and beverage industry is continuously trying to stay at par with the demands of a changing consumer world. With an increase in regulations and changing trends in the market, it is easy to keep sanitation, cleaning, and maintenance on the back seat and deal with the time-sensitive issues first.