Food and Beverage Software Systems: Supporting Food Processing and Manufacturing

By George Delp | August 29, 2023

Food Beverage Software Manufacturing

No matter what size your food and beverage manufacturing business is, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state and local regulators hold it to a litany of compliance standards. The more your business grows, the more critical it is to have food and beverage software systems that address industry-specific issues.

Every food and beverage manufacturer is in the thick of an alphabet soup of regulatory requirements and certifications, including:

In addition to navigating the acronym-laden world of food regulatory compliance, food and beverage manufacturers face other unique challenges. For example:

  • Supply chain traceability also does more than satisfy the FDA—tracking ingredients helps you avoid food waste and shows your commitment to socially and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Warehouse management is critical to the food manufacturing process—employing first expiry, first out (FEFO) tracking and ensuring proper storage conditions (e.g., refrigerated, frozen, dry, etc.) maintain the viability of your raw materials.

As your business grows and your product line expands recordkeeping and product labeling requirements mount. Scaling production means scaling human and physical resources and opens up opportunities for economies of scale in sourcing and purchasing ingredients.

Ultimately, whether your food manufacturing business is small or large, you need comprehensive systems that meet both business and food industry–specific needs. Stoneridge Software specializes in implementing all-inclusive enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 business suite.

In this blog, we’ll survey different types of software available for the food industry to help you make informed decisions about applications that will keep your business growing, compliant, and profitable.

Food Industry Software: An Overview

Food-related businesses constitute a trillion-dollar industry, so it’s no surprise that there are hundreds of software offerings for the food and beverage industry.

These applications fall into two broad categories:

  1. Targeted programs that meet very specific food-industry needs.
  2. Broad ERP solutions that aim to meet both general business and food and beverage manufacturing needs.

Food Safety and Regulatory Compliance Software

There are many software offerings designed to help with food safety and regulatory compliance.

Even the FDA has gotten into the picture, producing a software tool it calls Food Safety Plan Builder (FSPB), “a user-friendly tool designed to help owners and operators of a food establishment with the development of a food safety plan that is specific to their facilities.” FSPB helps companies incorporate the HACCP principles and CGMP into their site-specific food safety plans.

Commercial software vendors have also created programs that focus on HACCP plans, FSMA compliance, quality management, and general food safety. Other applications generate FDA-compliant product labels with next-generation barcodes.

Food Product Development Software

Developing new food products means creating new recipes, an experimental and iterative process. To be ready for commercial production, a recipe may need to meet more criteria than simply being tasty.

Food products involve variables such as:

  • Nutritional or caloric requirements
  • Ingredient cost and availability criteria
  • Production demands

Food product development software—sometimes referred to as product life cycle management (PLM) software—facilitates the process using ingredient databases that continuously update nutritional information, costs, labels, and more.

Food Processing Software

You’ve heard of word processing software; now there’s food processing software.

Food processing—turning raw agricultural products into ingredients ready to use in manufacturing facilities or the home kitchen—differs from food manufacturing, focusing more on continuous processes than batch production.

Some software vendors produce food processing applications—manufacturing execution systems (MES)—that streamline slaughterhouse operations or the processing of meat, poultry, fish, and prepared foods. MES solutions are similar in some ways to ERP systems; however, the central characteristic of an MES is the use of hardware sensors in conjunction with software to monitor and manage processing plants. Some food and beverage manufacturers use combined ERP and MES solutions.

ERP Software for Food Manufacturing

Food and beverage manufacturers may benefit from regulatory compliance, food safety, and PLM software, but such applications don’t provide the business systems that are needed to scale a manufacturing operation.

ERP solutions, on the other hand, supply you with integrated software to manage supply chain, warehousing, manufacturing, and distribution operations and also handle financials and human resources.

Most ERP software for food manufacturing falls into two categories:

  • ERP software makers produce a version of their primary ERP system tweaked for and geared toward the food and beverage industry.
  • Software makers that sell food manufacturing ERP solutions built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform.

Microsoft Dynamics 365: The Ideal Food Manufacturing ERP

The idea of adopting an ERP—especially one as powerful as Dynamics 365—may be intimidating for some businesses.

It may be tempting to find multiple applications that cover various food-industry niches. It’s true that the food and beverage manufacturing industry is unique. But fundamentally, your food and beverage operation is a business.

First and foremost, you need an ERP that manages all core business operations: finance, human resources, sales, marketing, customer service—and yes, supply chain, warehouse, production, and distribution management. Microsoft Dynamics 365 does all this and has offerings for small and medium-sized businesses and enterprise organizations:

  • Small and medium-sized businesses can implement systems using Dynamics 365 Business Central.
  • Larger food and beverage manufacturers can implement systems using Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, Finance, Commerce, and other Dynamics modules as needed.

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management and Business Central both have resources for batch or continuous process manufacturing. And any

Dynamics 365 ERP solution can be further enhanced with food industry–specific software from independent software vendors (ISVs) on Microsoft AppSource.

Other reasons why Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the ideal food manufacturing ERP software include that it is:

  • Scalable: Software-as-a-service (SaaS) licensing means you only pay for the users you need. As your business grows, you can scale your system by adding more licenses.
  • Cloud-based: Dynamics 365 is hosted in the Microsoft Azure Cloud, so you don’t need to purchase or maintain servers. Your software—accessed on any browser-equipped device—is always up to date. Your data is secured and backed up.
  • Integrated: No other software vendor offers the level of integration Microsoft provides. Your Dynamics 365 ERP connects to everything from Microsoft 365 Office productivity software to Microsoft Power Platform and your Dynamics 365 CRM solution.

Stoneridge Software: Your Food Manufacturing ERP Partner

A Dynamics 365 ERP is even more powerful when you work with a food manufacturing ERP implementation partner like Stoneridge Software.

We’re a certified Microsoft Solutions Partner for Business Applications, and we have a record of successful business software deployments for manufacturing companies like yours.

We work collaboratively with our clients to customize ERP solutions and provide training and support once a system is launched. Contact us today to learn more about our food and beverage manufacturing services.

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