The Food Manufacturing Process: A Lynchpin in Maintaining the Global Food Supply

By George Delp | September 13, 2023

Food Manufacturing Process

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the world’s population is rapidly approaching eight billion, a number the United Nations (UN) predicts will soar to 9.8 billion by 2050. From Thomas Malthus in the late eighteenth century to today, economists, philosophers, and scientists have predicted humanity’s decline many times—and yet we persist.

Whether you take a dim view or are optimistic about our future, it’s indisputable that modern innovations in food production and processing have enabled and sustained stratospheric population growth. If you work in food manufacturing, you’re part of an industry that does more than produce revenue—the food manufacturing industry is as essential as an industry can be.

However, that’s not to say that food processing and manufacturing aren’t economically important, too. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the nearly 40,000 food and beverage plants in the U.S. provide jobs for more than 1.7 million people. In 2021, agriculture and food-related industries added $1.264 trillion to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Of course, any large-scale enterprise requires efficient systems, and food manufacturing is no different. The food industry has long utilized mass production techniques and industrial hardware; now, developing software technologies like blockchain and technologies representing the marriage of hardware and software like the Internet of Things (IoT) are revolutionizing food production.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions enable food manufacturers to interconnect their supply chains, production and distribution operations, and financial systems like never before, providing unprecedented business insights that drive process optimization and maximize profits.

Stoneridge Software specializes in partnering with food and beverage manufacturers to implement ERP solutions using the Microsoft Dynamics 365 family of products and industry-specific add-ons from independent software vendors (ISVs). To learn more about our services, contact us today.

What Is Food Processing and Manufacturing? defines food processing as “any of a variety of operations by which raw foodstuffs are made suitable for consumption, cooking, or storage.” In the food manufacturing process, companies cut, combine, dry, freeze, boil, bake, season, and package foods, converting raw agricultural ingredients into delicious, shelf-stable food products.

The Food Manufacturing Process: A History of Adaptation

Nature hands us some foods ready to eat—ripe plums off the tree or luscious blueberries plucked from the bush. But others, like grains and livestock, need significant processing before consumption. Humans have also faced the issue of food spoilage throughout history, whether from bacteria, mold, insects, or rodents.

Ancient human populations developed ways to preserve their harvests, using methods like dehydration, primitive refrigeration, fermentation, and pickling. More recent methods include canning, pasteurization, and adding preservatives.

Although industrialization and mass production first affected the manufacture of textiles and other non-food products, today’s food and beverage producers combine industrial practices and effective sanitation to turn out safe, affordable, enjoyable food for the masses.

Safety in Food Product Manufacturing: The Role of Regulatory Agencies

Food production on a mass scale affects everyone (except, perhaps, a self-sufficient homesteader); it’s simultaneously an essential prop to our society and, because of the looming specter of foodborne illness, a potential public health threat.

It’s no surprise, then, that the food manufacturing process is regulated at the federal, state, and local levels. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) breaks the food industry into the following subsections:

  • Animal food product manufacturing
  • Grain processing
  • Confectionery manufacturing
  • Fruit and vegetable preservation
  • Dairy product manufacturing
  • Meat and poultry processing
  • Seafood processing
  • Baked product manufacturing
  • Beverages are another major food industry subsector

Nationally, the USDA oversees meat, poultry, and dairy processing, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates other industry sectors. Although food regulatory compliance is a significant burden for food and beverage manufacturers, achieving regulatory goals like food safety is ultimately in the best interest of both manufacturers and consumers.

When it comes to maintaining your company’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan, following Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs), or keeping pace with the FDA’s push to incorporate new technologies into food production, your organization can benefit from a Microsoft Dynamics 365–based ERP system.

Manufacturing Food Products: A Unique Industry

As we’ve already seen, the food manufacturing industry sustains life but also has the potential to harm through foodborne illness. This has produced layers of government regulation that are unique in their intensity.

However, the food and beverage industry is unique in other ways.

Virtually all manufacturing operations need to manage their supply chains. However, food manufacturers must also accommodate specialized transportation and storage requirements, such as refrigeration and humidity control, or face the prospect of their raw materials spoiling.

A production bottleneck in some industries means nothing more than a drop in productivity; in food manufacturing, it may result in ingredients spoiling before they have a chance to be used.

Contact Stoneridge today to learn how Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management or Dynamics 365 Business Central can help streamline your food manufacturing operations.

Managing the Food Manufacturing Process

A Dynamics 365–based ERP can enhance the food manufacturing process from farm fields all the way to the consumer’s dining table:

  • Ingredient sourcing and transportation: With the FDA placing additional traceability requirements on food manufacturers, you can get ahead of the compliance curve by incorporating blockchain and IoT technologies into your ERP’s supply chain management.
  • Warehousing: Ensure proper storage and timely utilization of your raw ingredients, eliminating waste and saving money.
  • Factory food production: Take advantage of the birds-eye view an ERP provides of your factory production to eliminate bottlenecks and speed up cleaning, sanitation, and resetting between batches.
  • Maintenance: Implement a preventive maintenance program or—even better—predictive maintenance to anticipate maintenance needs.
  • Quality control: Keep track of quality testing and link various test results to appropriate responses.
  • Distribution: Manage your supply of finished products, monitor consumer demand, and keep track of your financials, all within one integrated system.

Stoneridge Software: Your Food and Beverage Manufacturing Partner

Because the food industry is so unique, some companies have developed industry-specific ERP software. These solutions tend to perform well for things like FDA regulatory compliance or product labeling, but they fall short of the capabilities of Dynamics 365 ERP solutions in supply chain management, warehousing, and financials. Additional advantages of Dynamics 365 include:

  • Integration with Microsoft 365 Office programs and Microsoft Power Platform for business insights and automation.
  • Expansion and integration with Dynamics 365 customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.
  • Confidence that your information is hosted in the rock-solid Microsoft Azure Cloud and protected by Microsoft’s cutting-edge security.
  • Ability to share data across all systems, providing a continuously updated single source of business truth and reliable, actionable business insights.

Given the substantial benefits of Dynamics 365, we recommend choosing a Dynamics 365 ERP for your food manufacturing operation and enhancing it with industry-specific ISV extensions from Microsoft AppSource as necessary.

Stoneridge is a leader in implementing Dynamics 365 ERP and CRM solutions for businesses of all sizes. We were named the Microsoft U.S. Partner of the Year in 2022 for Dynamics 365 Business Central. We approach every engagement as a collaboration; we get to know you and customize your ERP solution to your unique business needs. And when your system launches, we’re still there with you, shoulder to shoulder, to provide training, support, and upgrades.

Contact us today to discuss your food or beverage manufacturing operation.

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