How Data Analytics Can Help Reduce Supply Chain Food Waste

Did you know that between 30-40% of food wasted occurs at the supply chain level? (Centre for Nutritional Studies, 2021). There are a number of different reasons why food waste occurs upstream. Some include over production, quality standards, logistics, unpredictable weather and more. By addressing food waste upstream and at the supply chain level, it is possible to reduce the overall amount of food waste and help ensure that food resources are used more sustainably.

Poor inventory management practices are also a leading cause in food waste at the supply chain level. A major reason for the waste can be attributed to unstructured data.

Managing Inventory in Data Chaos

Through internal research, we’ve discovered that many organizations operate in “data chaos.” While they work with ERP(s) that are designed to increase organizational efficiency, the reality is that data is often left unstructured with no governance, and stored in multiple locations. This makes it difficult for inventory planners to manage inventory efficiently. 5 supply chain data challenges most organizations are facing.

Inventory planners often have to cross-reference different supply chain IT systems in order to obtain the right data needed for reporting. In most cases, since different individuals within an organization have access to these systems, there is a lack of confidence about if this data is reliable.

With a lack of understanding about what data exists, where, and who is inputting information, unfortunately, many planners end up extracting data from ERPs and other Supply Chain IT systems, into spreadsheets that they manually vet for solutions.

These spreadsheets often increase time spent on creating reports, leaving limited hours in the day left to coordinate cross-department inventory write-off solutions.

A Simple Solution to Inventory Management

If you could minimize the use of spreadsheets in your everyday work, would you?

Cloud-based solutions provide an easy way to reduce inventory waste. Get real-time supply chain visibility, automated reporting for inventory tracking, and advanced forecasting algorithms for accurate demand anticipation with these solutions. Moreover, cloud infrastructure scalability and flexible pricing allow businesses to adopt solutions without significant upfront costs or commitments.

Take The Owl Solutions for example. The Owl equips inventory professionals with the tools they need to reduce waste and maximize efficiency. We implement a DIA™ Framework with our customers leveraging Data, Insights and Actions to drive strategic business outcomes.

Our Supply Chain Performance Platform allows users to access near real-time data analytics that have been centralized in a secure cloud environment – empowering them to uncover gaps in their operations, remain compliant and measure progress quickly.

Plus, customized dashboards provide an intuitive user experience so critical insights are always at your fingertips! We even pair you with supply chain experts on an ongoing basis that have years of experience conducting root cause analysis and implementing improvement plans. Our product does not just deliver a service, but an added business outcome.

See how our platform can help you reduce expired inventory.

Environmental Impact of Food Waste

Our initiative for the food and beverage industry is to help companies reduce the amount of food waste at the supply chain level – improving their people, profits and the planet. Much of that food waste ends up in landfills, which emit methane – a 25x more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2022). Not to mention all of the waste that occurred producing the food products – water, facility charges etc. Reducing food waste can help contribute to a reduced carbon footprint.

In summary, data analytics and cloud-based solutions can be used together to create an effective system for reducing inventory waste by providing real-time insights into supply chain operations as well as forecasting future demand with greater accuracy. By enabling businesses to plan ahead and make informed decisions about what products they should order and how much inventory is necessary at any given time, these solutions give companies the ability to proactively manage their stock levels in order to maximize efficiency while minimizing unnecessary costs associated with storing excess items.

Interested in seeing how we helped one of our customers save $500,000 in inventory write-off risks and achieve a 50% reduction in inventory with less than 75% remaining shelf life? Click the case study button below.