Getting food products quickly and safely to retail outlets so they can be sold within their optimum quality period means the supply chain must work fast and accurately. 

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission has found food and beverage processing to be Australia’s largest manufacturing industry. Industry players are diverse in size – from multinationals producing large volumes of fast-moving consumer goods through to smaller players with flexibility to meet demand for niche gourmet items.

The industry supplies a diverse range of products to all distribution channels: retail, food service and food ingredients. Flexibility within the industry means product supply quickly matches consumer trends such as health and wellbeing, as well as convenience and value for money. And from paddock to consumer, the industry is supported by reliable and world-class transport and distribution infrastructure.

An important part of that transport and distribution infrastructure is the warehousing and dispatch element. Foodstuffs must be stored and handled in a careful and timely manner, giving thought to FIFO (first in, first out) batch processes and use-by dates.

A developing industry

From an industry that was for a long time dominated by high volume multinationals,  consumer preferences and trends of late have been demanding more convenient, healthier, fresher, less processed foods. This switch has given rise to a flourishing small to medium size industry developing a new range of fast moving, less processed, nourishing food products called functional foods.

Functional foods are defined by ATIC as foods that provide inherent health benefits as well as those fortified with concentrated ingredients, modified in a way that aims to promote health and wellbeing, grown chemical-free, improve performance or reduce the risk of disease.

By their nature, functional foods demand less processing, lower investments in manufacturing, and are more diverse in flavour and ingredients. Because of the diversity in tastes and lower upfront investment required, a large number of small entrepreneurs have sprung up, delivering a huge range and variety of functional foods to every corner of Australia.

Food safety is a matter of time

All foodstuffs have a use-by date, although their optimum consumption period may be shorter than this. For best taste and quality, and for food safety, foods should be packed and delivered as quickly as possible, ensuring fast sale by the retailer, ultimately to be enjoyed by the customer.

Whether it’s a small or larger food producer, warehouse and supply chain processes must be optimised for the business to succeed. This involves an appropriate storage environment, accurate data processing, quality labelling and efficient material handling.

Quality labelling is especially important in the food distribution network. Labelling must be clear and easy to read, as the amount of information may be quite large and all details are important. FIFO requires batch numbers and dates to be prominent and legible; product identification clear for fast and efficient picking, packing and dispatch; and customer/destination information similarly clear and easy to read for the delivery driver.

Brother’s TD-4 range of dedicated label printers has been developed to help optimise the food delivery supply chain. With easy integration into an organisation’s IT infrastructure, the printers are quick to install and provide fast, clear label printing capability at 203 or 300dpi across a range of label media. Warehouse staff will be able to focus on fast, efficient dispatch of orders to customers, without having to worry about smudged or unclear product information.

By investing in the Brother TD-4 range of label printers, food distribution companies can ensure that both the warehouse pick-pack-dispatch operations and the transport delivery to the customer will be optimised, ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. Contact Brother’s labelling specialists for a consultation and demonstration.

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