INVENTORY MANAGEMENT   |   4 minute read

Introducing: Batch and expiry date tracking for F&B businesses

Possible glass fragments. Undeclared milk. Salmonella. E-Coli. These are some of the reasons behind product recalls by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

If you’re the owner of a food and beverage (F&B) business, you are constantly running the risk of contamination for reasons like the ones outlined above. Perishable products like fresh produce are particularly susceptible to spoilage, especially due to improper storage conditions. And in the event of contamination or spoilage, you need to be ready to run a recall for the affected products.

You’ll also need to pay special attention to perishable products. Keep an eye on your products’ expiry dates and ensure that you can sell them before their sell-by date. After all, you can’t run a year end sale to clear stock when your products have already expired.

Batch tracking: helping you with recalls

In November 2015, 19 people across the U.S. suffered from food poisoning caused by E.Coli after eating Costco’s rotisserie chicken salad. The cause was traced back to the vegetables in the salad, and the farm responsible issued a recall of all affected products. Health officials released warnings to Costco’s customers to check any uneaten salads in their fridges. If the salad comes with a label numbered 37719, consumers are advised to throw it away.

Costco’s ability to pin down the contaminated salads to batch number 37719, which was clearly printed on the container, definitely helped the company to take appropriate measures. When combined with sales records, batch numbers offer you a way to track the locations of products in the event of a recall, as you’ll know exactly where all your products are. Boxes of TomatoesOne of the most important steps in dealing with a recall is a prompt and effective response. With an order management system that has batch tracking capabilities, you can take a proactive approach to product recalls, particularly if you’re running a wholesale business. After all, you’ll know where the affected products are and can take measures to speed up the process. You’ll also be able to nip the problem in the bud before it reaches the end consumer, which could become a great foundation for a positive relationship with your retailers.

Expiry date tracking: When’s the right time to clear stock?

At a supermarket, there are often clearance racks where items are sold at a massive discount of 50% off or more. Assuming they’re using the keystone pricing method to calculate their retail price (multiplying the cost price by 2), a discount of 50% means the merchant is selling the product at cost price without covering their overheads.

As a business owner, every item sold at a discount has an impact on your revenue. If you’re selling an item at 50% off, no matter how much you sell, you won’t be making a profit. By tracking your expiry dates, you’ll be better equipped to deal with expiring products. However, tracking expiry dates manually can be a challenge for businesses dealing with perishable products, as you’ll have to keep records of the expiration dates for multiple batches per product.

If you’re constantly discounting short-dated products, you might want to look into using inventory management software that offers product traceability. Inventory tracking software offers added transparency, so your sales and marketing teams can access the information they need to sell more efficiently. Instead of offering drastic discounts on a ton of expiring products, you can start offering smaller discounts and product bundles earlier.Fresh AsparagusWhen you’re selling at a discount, you need to ensure customers know exactly why they’re getting a great deal. If they’re unaware that they’re getting a discount because they bought short-dated products, you’ll have to deal with requests for returns. Since discounted items are usually non-refundable, you’ll have to reject your customers’ requests, resulting in upset customers. To help prevent misunderstandings, you can put up notices on your eCommerce site and notes on your sales orders that highlight these items cannot be returned and that they will be expiring soon.

Running product recalls and organizing clearance sales are tough enough, even without the struggle of tracking down the contaminated batches or manually keeping track of expiry dates by batches. To help you enable your F&B business, TradeGecko's stock control software now comes with batch and expiry date tracking so you'll know exactly where individual batches of your products are, and when they expire. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to focus your attention on growing your business by reducing the time spent on manually keeping track of your products on a spreadsheet.

Reach out to one of our product experts for more information on how TradeGecko can help you with Batch and Expiry Tracking!

Next: How batch tracking can lessen the impact of product recalls

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