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In recent years, there's been a strong movement to eat more locally grown foods. People want to support local farmers and they want to know where their food comes from. Food Tech Connect describes how people view this movement—as "elitist and expensive"—but offers a reminder that once upon a time, everything was local. People only purchased what was grown near them and ate seasonally. There were no tomatoes in January or acorn squash in June. As more people are becoming disenchanted with commercial foods, they want to go back to their roots both literally and figuratively. 

This change in how people want to eat necessitates visibility and traceability with the supply chain and food service supplies. Here's how technology can help improve the supply chain for restaurants, grocery stores, and other food service vendors. 

Improving Accountability and Traceability 

It seems as though there's a new food recall every day. Recently, salad mix, hummus, and eggs were among the food service supplies that came under fire. Restaurants and other food vendors can help reduce the risk of food-borne illness by purchasing from quality vendors, but the reality is that any food can become contaminated. Food safety is truly at the forefront of the industry, even more so than creative menus or limited time offers. Customer illnesses can be a PR nightmare and tarnish the reputation of the restaurant.

By digitizing the food supply chain, however, restaurants can improve their approach to food safety. For example, a restaurant that orders avocados from a supplier can report contamination immediately, which then makes other restaurants who also purchase from that vendor aware of the situation. The technology allows them to find and purchase from another vendor quickly, enabling them to circumvent the contaminated products until the all-clear is given. Should a restaurant customer become sick, a digitized supply chain can help the restaurant quickly trace the vendor that supplied the products the customer consumed, allowing the restaurant to pull the rest of those products from their shelves and select alternatives before more customers are affected. 

Process Automation 

Digitizing the food supply chain can also help restaurants save more by streamlining the ordering process for food service supplies. Restaurants that utilize technology can be connected to hundreds of suppliers of the highest quality local foods to meet the demands of today's consumers. The ordering process becomes automated and inventory is easier to manage, so items are replenished as food service supplies are getting low. Dealing with multiple vendors becomes a thing of the past and a digitized food supply chain offers restaurants a single point of contact and single-source invoicing for complete and total efficiency. Instead of paying multiple invoices to different suppliers each month with different payment terms for each, technology allows restaurants to order from multiple vendors across the country—and even the globe—while only paying a single invoice every month. 

As data is gathered and entered back into the system, analytics are improved and restaurants can better estimate what they will need and when they will need it. They'll be able to see what sells and what doesn't at a glance and adjust their orders quickly and easily. Restaurants can even use analytics to modify their menus so they are always offering the best-selling dishes to meet consumer demand. This ultimately results in less food waste, which is a critical component of being able to run a farm-to-table food service while still making a profit. 

Product Quality Compliance 

With consumer drive aimed at fresh, local, high-quality foods, compliance is more important than ever before. Customers have high expectations for their food, especially with the cost of enjoying a meal at a restaurant on the rise. Consumers no longer want cheap, low-quality food just because it costs less—they are willing to pay a little more for a better dining experience. For restaurants to achieve this new level of demand, complete visibility of the supply chain is essential. Supply chain transparency, in conjunction with automation, helps reduce costs by giving restaurants access to quality ingredients at fair prices. Restaurants can better manage their risk, their overall spend, and their rotating inventory. This ensures fresh products are always available.

Is your restaurant ready to take the next step in automating your food supply chain with proven technology? Doing so will not only enable you to better answer consumer questions, it will also provide a safer, more enjoyable food experience.

5 Star Food Supplies

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About Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.

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