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Achieving All-Around Excellence in Fresh Produce with ERP Technology

Achieving All-Around Excellence in Fresh Produce with ERP Technology

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Achieving All-Around Excellence in Fresh Produce with ERP Technology

Nov 23, 2021

John McCurdy
Food industry professionals review information on a tablet in the field.

The development of powerful new technologies and their incorporation in production, processing and supply chain processes has given rise to “Industry 4.0,” a new era of more intelligent operations. This paradigm shift is leading to considerable improvement of outcomes across a variety of industries, including fresh produce.

Because this sector is so resource-intensive and requires great attention to detail, employing cutting-edge smart devices, artificial intelligence, automated procedures and IoT-enabled machinery can be a game-changer. Organizations see positive impacts with the adoption of these advancements in terms of better results and a healthier balance of responsibilities for human workers.

That being said, the right foundation must be laid before these tools can become a part of your business’s digital transformation. The ideal backbone is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that ties it all together, uniting all departments of your organization and integrating with the advanced equipment you’re putting in place.

Read on to discover how a fresh produce ERP system can help your company achieve excellence on several key fronts.

Ensuring Best Practices

In the past, fresh produce businesses like yours may have managed to get by on home-grown software and manual record keeping. But the demands of today’s dynamic marketplace make outdated setups and methods like these a serious liability. You need a fully digital, cross-functional platform for your organization to ensure that information siloes are eliminated and all departments are on the same page.

An ERP solution is perfectly suited for this purpose. These systems act as a single source of truth across the entire organization, keeping important figures and metrics up-to-date and highly visible for all users and serving as the go-to interface for completing key responsibilities and tasks.

It’s vital, though, that you seek an industry-specific ERP for your fresh produce company. A generic offering is unlikely to have the specialized features you need—like consignment tracking and grower relationship management tools—and won’t necessarily have been developed with best practices in mind.

By contrast, we’ve put decades of experience and best practices from the fresh produce sector to use in the development of the Aptean Fresh Produce ERP, positioning it as a best-in-class option for enterprises that want to modernize for optimal outcomes.

Improving Product Quality

With consumers having become more discerning on quality and safety than ever before, there’s pressure on your fresh produce business to bring only the absolute best products to market. Leveraging technology to make sure that your fruits, vegetables and other produce goods are as delicious and appealing as possible is necessary to keep up with the competition.

It starts with monitoring of growing conditions using smart sensors and scales integrated with your ERP system to ensure that moisture, nutrient and temperature levels are ideal for the cultivation of your crops. AI-driven imaging devices can also be used to assess results, as the ideal characteristics in terms of color, shape and texture can be identified through machine learning and readings can be assessed according to your brand’s standards.

This means keeping tabs on the key factors influencing product quality can also be applied during storage and transportation. Connected thermometers and humidity controls can pipe readings into your ERP system in real time so that deviations from the acceptable ranges can be flagged and rectified. This should maximize the chances that your products arrive at stores and foodservice outlets in top-notch shape, improving your customer satisfaction.

Maintaining Healthy Profit Margins

We mentioned before how resource-heavy the production of fresh produce can be, and that makes efficient use of materials and finances crucial for maintaining profitability. You must find the right balance when purchasing your inputs and managing your inventory so that you have enough product to meet demand but also avoid loss through spoilage.

A produce ERP platform built for organizations like yours can help you understand what to expect in the seasons to come with robust forecasting tools. The analytic functionalities of the software can also bring inefficiencies in your process to light. Making more informed, data-driven decisions is vital for getting the most out of what you have, which makes all the differences when it comes to margins.

Fresh produce ERP can derive actionable insights from historical sales and pricing figures as well, which will help you tweak your product lines to align with consumer tastes and preferences. By focusing on what sells best and rethinking your underperforming offerings, you can remain confident in your success despite the ever-changing nature of the industry.

Becoming More Sustainable

There is a reason “sustainability” is on the tip of everyone’s tongue—today’s consumers see it as an even more critical matter than a year or two ago, with 82% stating that sustainability is more top-of-mind now than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Think with Google. For this reason, your efforts on this front could have a dramatic impact on your brand reputation.

Water, energy and land usage are important considerations for fresh produce companies like yours, and your stewardship of these resources will make a big difference in protecting our planet and minimizing harm to natural ecosystems. That being said, dialing in your approach to the matter takes having a holistic view of your operations, and that’s where ERP solutions come in.

With the right system on your side, you’ll be able to accurately quantify your environmental footprint and determine how to adjust your approach to make your operations leaner and greener. You’ll also have excellent inventory management features at your fingertips that can help minimize waste and facilitate a first-expiry, first-out (FEFO) product picking approach.

Finally, it’s also worth noting that a fresh produce ERP platform can also facilitate the introduction of new suppliers and vendors for more sustainable options on the market for sourcing, packaging, materials and transportation. This added level of flexibility in your supply chain lets your organization make real change without having to interrupt daily operations.

Unlocking Your Fresh Produce Business’s Potential

We’ve established that an industry-specific fresh produce ERP can kick your efficiency, profitability, sustainability and overall organizational effectiveness up a notch, but considering the many available solutions on the market and the complex deployment process, you may still have questions and concerns about getting underway with your digital transformation.

At Aptean, we understand that such a change initiative can seem daunting at first, but we’re proud to act as a guide and partner during your systems assessment and implementation phases. We’ve successfully put our platforms in place for thousands of food and beverage customers, and our in-depth knowledge of the fresh produce industry ensures that we “speak your language” and can help tackle the unique challenges you face.

Better still, our offerings are built on the framework of Microsoft Dynamics 365—so you know the software is consistently updated and equipped with the latest integrations—and can be deployed from the cloud for greater reliability, accessibility and security. We also have dedicated IT teams at the ready to help troubleshoot any issues that occur.

Ready to learn more about Aptean's fresh produce ERP and how it can allow your business to leverage the latest technologies for holistic improvement? Contact us today.

Tell us about yourself and an Aptean specialist will be in touch.