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How To Choose an ERP for the Food Industry

How To Choose an ERP for the Food Industry


See all Food ERP Solutions

How To Choose an ERP for the Food Industry

8 Apr 2020

Aptean Staff Writer

We understand: choosing the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for your business is complicated. The ERP market is saturated with solutions that promise to increase your profits or create more efficient processes without taking into account the complex nature of your food company.

Thankfully, business solutions designed specifically for the food industry do exist and are built from the ground up with the functionality you require on a daily basis - like food safety, traceability and quality.

Think about it like this: a generic ERP likely doesn’t have the functionality to inherently track an ingredient bi-directionally throughout the production process. Though a generic ERP provider may promise you that this can be custom-built for your specific food company, customizations often require more of your time, resources and money to get the system to work the way you need it to. A system that promotes compliance and recall readiness at its core, however, ensures you have the time to focus on making better business decisions rather than worrying about whether your ERP is doing its part in keeping your company compliant.

Below, we outline four areas of your business that will greatly benefit from an industry-specific food ERP solution over a more generic one.

Food Safety

Food safety is one of the top pain points for food manufacturers, according to Food Processing’s 17th annual Manufacturing Outlook Survey, and for good reason. When it comes to the safety of consumers, there’s no room for taking chances. Selecting an ERP that gives you the ability to account for raw materials and finished goods throughout the production process ensures your company is doing what it can to keep our food supply safe.

When choosing an ERP for the food industry, it’s important to look for a solution that includes features like bi-directional ingredient tracking, robust quality functionality, and allergen management. This food-specific functionality is often missing in more generic ERP solutions and can be the difference between being fully recall ready or not.

Consider this example: an ERP for the food industry should have functionality built into it that allows for allergen replacements at the bill of material (BOM) or recipe level. Aptean customer Food For Tots, a catering company that provides child-friendly meals to child care centers and schools, uses Aptean JustFood ERP to go through each individualized BOM for the day and automatically assign multiple allergen replacements based on the various needs of each child it serves. Food For Tots is able to manage 97 different allergens and 1,500 lunches with allergen replacements per day, an impossible feat for a generic ERP.

Inventory Management

Unlike other manufacturing companies, food manufacturers are forced to take extra caution when it comes to inventory management for one simple reason: raw or perishable ingredients. Clothing or electronics manufacturers, for example, don’t have the same inventory management requirements as food manufacturers and processors do, so why should they rely on the same business solution to manage their needs?

Functionality like batch and expiration tracking, catch weight management and food waste reduction found in ERP solutions built for the food industry ensure that your businesses’ unique needs regarding raw and perishable ingredients are taken into account.

Consider this example: Madrona Specialty Foods, a leading producer of artisanal crackers, relied on separate manufacturing and accounting systems to run its business prior to switching to Aptean. Without the food-specific functionality an ERP for the food industry inherently provides, Madrona had no clear insight into expiration date or shelf-life tracking, which turned out to be a big issue for proper inventory management and KPI tracking. With the help of a food-specific ERP solution, Madrona’s warehouse team is now able to manage expiry dates using the FEFO (first expiry, first out) method on all orders directly through controls set up during customer creation.

Quality and Compliance

Staying compliant with the growing number of government regulations being put in place is almost impossible to do without an ERP for the food industry. Without the proper visibility into your company’s cross-departmental data, you could be violating a number of regulatory requirements without even knowing it. To stay compliant with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), for example, your company needs to ensure that it can properly analyze its production and quality data to be fully recall ready. Without the proper system in place, food businesses will be left to rely on independent platforms, spreadsheets and manual processes to find and produce the required data for quality audits.

When choosing an ERP, food companies should look for systems that have lot trace capabilities, ingredient-level tracking and product origin management to help ensure compliance.

Consider this example: Food companies like Almondina Brand Cookies need to remain compliant not only to adhere to government regulations, but also to land big customers like Costco or Trader Joe’s. Often, these big box stores require third-party Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) safety and quality audits before agreeing to carry a product. With the help of Aptean JustFood ERP’s superlative lot traceability and recall functionality, Almondina was able to perform a mock recall in under 30 minutes to get successful accreditation from its auditor and land Costco as a customer.


Managing production scheduling and planning without an ERP built for the food industry can result in data silos and shop floor inefficiencies. Features like batch processing, master production scheduling (MPS) and item production consolidation help give you the oversight you need to identify production bottlenecks or process issues so you can hit profitable production targets.

Having all of your production data and operations in one single platform built for the food industry integrates all parts of your business and provides end-to-end visibility into your entire food operation. Generic ERP solutions may not allow you to keep maintenance plans and production schedules in the same system, for example, making scheduling maintenance while still maximizing equipment utilization difficult.

Consider this example: Without a food-specific ERP, companies like commercial bakery Creative Food Ingredients are left relying on disparate departmental data to track product throughout the warehouse. With a solution like Aptean JustFood ERP, Creative Foods can use electronic tablets on the production floor to capture consumption at the mixers and record output as finished goods as it comes off the lines. This real-time visibility into production data allows Creative Foods to decrease inventory shortages and increase order efficiency.

Choosing an industry-specific ERP over a generic solution guarantees that your food company will have the technology it needs to improve food safety, streamline operational efficiency and manage business growth.

Learn more about Aptean’s food-specific ERP solutions and see if they are right for your business by reaching out to our team of food and beverage industry experts. We’d love to talk.

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