Do the TOP 10 features of software products in the meat industry exist? I will try to make the case for some but not without a little disclaimer before I get started. Talking about the Top 10 is always something that we need to be a little careful about. If we talk about the top 10 best movies of all time, we may refer to a matter of personal opinion rather than factual and scientifically proven facts. Even if we say Top 10 grossing movies at all times may be a questionable result, because it does not account for inflation. Top 10 Movies by number of people going to the theater, well this one would not account for changes in population and changes in technology which in turn changes the way we consume movies. So these top 10 features are always a little skewed, and we have not even talked about how relevant all these stats and numbers are to us taking personal preferences into account. The truth to be told, some of these features vary quite between all the different types of companies we have in the meat industry. We need to keep in mind that we talk about quite a few species the industry is dealing with, about quite a few processing stages from harvest, primary production, further production of different types and shapes, portion controlled food service business and distributors. With all this in mind, here are my personal top 10 features.
For the meat industry in general:
- Companies must have the ability to deal with catch weight and standard weight. For standard weight items, companies must be able to evaluate their give away.
- Companies must understand their inventory position by age of product as well as shelf life, depending on the type of business they are in. Meat Packers are more concerned about age while further processors are more concerned about shelf-life.
- Companies must be able to understand their availability and ability to sell products. This means that not only the current inventory position is important, but also future sales, planned production and inbound shipments must be visible at any given time in real-time
With an industry average of 70% value share of total costs, yields between received costs and produced product are of utmost significance to any meat business. These include, but are not limited by
- Slaughter Yield, including offal, skins and other by products
- Cut Yields, whether you are a meat packers or just do some trimming as a step in your production process
- Injection yields, when you produce cooked ham, pastrami or other fully cooked whole muscle meat products
- Cook and Smoke Shrinkages
- GS1-128 bar-code capabilities and compliance with industry wide standards for traceability and logistical compatibility and interoperability with your customers, vendors and government regulators such as the “Implementation Guide For Traceability” This actually implies serialized inventory which is basically a standard in North America with an approximate 80% adaptation rate.
- A quality management system that goes beyond traceability and alleviates some of the requirements for record keeping by USDA, GFSI or your customers while keeping products safe and the company efficient.
For meat packers:
- The ability to collect data on the kill-floor and produce “recipient created invoices”, aka “Farmers Settlements” with all its intricacies such as splitting payments, arranging and tracking carriers etc.
- Product Availability Management, with all aspects of grades, downgrading rules, market valuation and product mix optimization that enables companies to sell the most profitable mix of meat cuts under given and future market conditions.
For meat processors:
- Least cost formulation as a component of the planning process, to reduce the expenses on meat purchased.
Least cost formulation as part of the production execution, to avoid costly batch adjustments in the process
These are my Top 10. These are a result based on 20 years selling software solutions as a butcher to the meat industry. There are plenty of other requirements that may rank higher on your personal list. One of them may be managing the costs of freight based on the current costs of $110+ per barrel. Others may be rebate management, packaging yields, labor yields. At this point we get into the individuality of each business, with their own unique value preposition and their own unique cost shares. Each of these need to be managed, the process needs to be streamlined so that the organization becomes successful and prosperous in the industry.