The use of organic foods is expected to rise more than 18 percent by 2020. As Americans continue to learn more about the effects of the products they buy, they are becoming much more health-conscious and wary of where their money goes. Whether for reasons of health, allergens, or dieting, consumers are paying more attention to what they are consuming, and process manufacturers need to adapt to address these changing consumption patterns.
Companies like Baileys and Kraft are heeding the call for more natural products. Free-form food or beverages that are free of artificial flavors, preservatives, gluten, and GMO ingredients are grabbing the attention of health-conscious shoppers. This movement is not exclusive to food, however. The organic personal care market is expected to double in the U.S. by 2025. The time to jump into the organic and natural product game is now, and here’s how:
Fixing the Formula
Changing product formulas is easier said than done. It takes the right combination of ingredients to meet growing health concerns as well as maintain the taste that has drawn in buyers while adhering to safety, experience and transparency requirements. With a product lifecycle management (PLM) solution, companies can test new formulas and recipes and determine how changes will affect cost immediately. The old-school style of working through spreadsheets is not only filled with potential for errors, but also takes away from much needed time for more productive activities. Spreadsheets need to be constantly updated, consolidated, revised, modified, corrected, and distributed to the right people.
With PLM software, anyone who needs access to important product information will always be able to pull up accurate, real-time information when needed. PLM also provides access to all of your data in one convenient location, with which data can be turned into insights, to allow for accurate forecasting.
If it Doesn’t Say Smuckers on the Label…
Traceability and transparency are big factors in process manufacturing. According to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2016 Food and Health Survey, one in six people would like to see more information on product labels. With nearly half of consumers trying to limit artificial colors and flavors, many buyers will forgo buying a product that does not offer detailed information. PLM helps make sure product labels meet regulatory requirements and the allergen and content warning needs of your customers.
Amid changing consumer preferences, traceability has also increased in importance. The European Union (EU) and U.S. have passed legislation making it mandatory for retailers to inform consumers about the country of origin for a number of products while putting the onus on food retailers to guarantee food is safe and of high quality. As seen with Chipotle, who is still trying to regain consumer trust more than a year after its E. coli breakout, food safety practices and where ingredients come from can have a direct impact on sales, earnings and brand reputation. A PLM system allows suppliers to document the effectiveness of their food safety interventions, ensure safe practices and minimize food safety risks.
Shorten the Cycle
PLM software allows food processors to bring new products to market faster than ever possible before. A tight-knit supply chain coupled with a collaborative user experience is key to strengthening your product’s life cycle. Being able to send real-time information between links in the chain allows for correct data, speeding the cycle process and allowing process manufacturers to see returns on products much faster than in the past.
Amar Kulkarni is vice president of Manufacturing at Avaap. He works with leading food processors to implement Infor M3, PLM and other Infor software solutions to make their technology strategies succeed.