How the produce industry can build a resilient supply chain

A safe and secure supply chain is critical for growers, packers and shippers

Feb 01, 2023

Key takeaways

Produce companies have increased their focus on building a more resilient supply chain.

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As the supply chain expands, new challenges have emerged, from weather to regulatory issues.

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New Microsoft solutions increase supply chain visibility, enabling companies to be proactive.

Supply chain Modern work solutions
Food & beverage Microsoft Technology consulting Business applications

Given the disruption the world has experienced in the past few years and the uncertainty that still lies ahead, the produce industry has increased its focus on building more resilient supply chains.

While the U.S. government has recently focused on addressing supply chain issues in the technology sector with legislation, including the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science (CHIPS) Act of 2022, the produce supply chain has not received the same attention, and companies in this sector need to take a closer look at how they can become more resilient.

Below we examine the main pillars of a resilient supply chain and how technology can help prepare you for the next big disruption.

Global end-to-end supply chains

As consumers have gotten used to the year-round availability of produce, the supply chain has expanded into new corners of the world, allowing for additional growing seasons. With this extended supply chain, produce suppliers face new challenges, ranging from regulatory requirements and changing government structures to the larger impact of weather on yields and transportation lines.

With these additional moving parts, visibility into the full supply chain in real time is critical to the ability to respond quickly and, if possible, proactively. This is where technology can fill a current void and help capture data as it is generated, connect the data in a centralized view to create real-time visibility, and generate warnings as well as automate actions to quickly address any identified problems.

Microsoft’s new Supply Chain Platform is doing exactly that. It connects data from different parties in the supply chain to create a centralized control center. Built on the Power Platform, the rich framework allows you to create custom workflows, reporting views and integrations to your existing systems.

Safe supply chains

To ensure a safe supply chain, a produce supplier must consider many factors. In addition to food safety—addressed later in this series—these include: 

  • Are we safe from an inventory perspective?
  • Are we safe from a technology perspective?

Regarding inventory, relying on tribal knowledge and how things have always been done is no longer a safe strategy. Companies must utilize technology to capture data from within their organization and use the data to support the demand planning process to ensure sufficient inventory and capacity in case of a disruption. Modern enterprise resource planning platforms like Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain or Business Central are important tools for storing, analyzing and processing inventory data to plan for appropriate inventory levels.

Beyond those benefits, powerful machine learning and artificial intelligence-based tools can use ERP system data to better predict what the future holds and identify potential blind spots your organization can address to keep the supply chain moving.

As new technologies are introduced to support the business, connecting with new suppliers across the globe and enabling employees to work from home, cybersecurity is becoming a major topic. Bad actors traditionally have primarily focused on other industries, but are finding new opportunities as many food and beverage companies step into the technology world after a lag on investments in that space.

Utilizing a cloud-first strategy based on Microsoft’s infrastructure ensures that your data and applications are protected 24/7 by teams that focus solely on staying a step ahead of potential disrupters. In addition, with the unique suite of solutions Microsoft brings to the table, you can interact with customers, suppliers and employees in an integrated, secure and frictionless way at any stage of the engagement cycle.

Increasing your resiliency

Over the years RSM has worked closely with hundreds of companies in the food and beverage industry to advise them on their transformation strategy and help them implement and manage solutions in the long term. Consider the following questions:

  • Are you a resilient part of today’s supply chain?
  • Are there areas where you know you have room to improve, but you’re not sure where to start?
  • Are you lacking visibility into your internal supply chain?

If you need help addressing any of these questions, reach out to us and we can show you how we can help you become more resilient and ready for the next disruption.

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