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Maintaining Inventory Levels to Avoid Food Waste

Naama Aharoni  |  March 7, 2023

How to find a way to maintain efficient inventory levels to avoid waste and loss?

Maintaining efficient inventory levels is crucial in food and beverage distribution. If you have too much inventory, it can go bad before it's sold. This results in wasted products and lost revenue.

On the other hand, if you don't have enough inventory, you may not be able to meet customer demand. This can lead to unhappy customers and lost sales. To avoid these problems, you need to find a way to maintain efficient inventory levels.

There are several ways to do this, including:

Implementing an inventory management system

An inventory management system can help food distribution and food production companies keep track of their inventory levels and make sure they have the right amount on hand.

Conducting regular stocktaking and cycle counts

Distributors should conduct regular stocktaking and cycle counts to manage stock levels effectively. Stocktaking involves physically counting all of the items in your inventory, while cycle counts focus on smaller groups of items.

Both methods can help you keep track of your inventory levels and identify any issues with product rotation. Additionally, conducting regular counts can help you spot trends in customer demand, which can guide your ordering decisions.

Creating a buffer stock for peak periods

Buffer stocks are a vital part of managing inventory levels, as they can help you avoid stockouts during periods of high demand.

Creating a buffer stock involves setting aside a certain amount of inventory to cover unexpected increases in customer demand. This extra inventory can help you avoid disruptions to your business and keep your customers happy.

Use FEFO-enabled picking strategy

A ‘first expired, first out’ or FEFO approach to inventory management takes into account the estimated remaining shelf life of a product and matches it to the requirements of the subsequent part of the handling chain.

This enables distributors to help ensure retailers receive products well before expiration to prevent premature obsolescence. An expiration date is assigned to a batch, and the date remains associated with the batch number as products move through the supply chain. Expiration and batch information can be tracked within the inventory management system to indicate which items should be rotated out of inventory first.

This can be especially useful for businesses that receive products with expiry dates that are out of sequence with the receipt date. FEFO can also be extended through the warehouse management system as a picking practice – workers are automatically directed to pick items closest to expiration first. 

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