The latest in inventory management technology
During the pandemic, companies all along the food supply chain have found it more important than ever to keep an accurate eye on inventory control, said Matthew Starobin, president and CEO of Bronxville, New York-based At-Your-Service Software Inc., makers of cloud-based ReciProfity food costing software.
“Businesses are under more stress now, their costs. People are not spending money the way they used to, and for them to be able to manage costs in any shape or form is more important than ever,” he said. “From inventory control to other issues, it’s front burner. Companies don’t want to lay people off if they don’t have to.”
For commissaries, central kitchens and retailers who make prepared foods onsite, inventory management can be especially critical, Starobin said. A baker planning on making a recipe that includes blueberries, for instance, may be using data from months before when costing his blueberries. That can negatively impact the bottom line and inventory levels.
New cloud-based tool for commissaries
New for At-Your-Service is a reciProfity that is especially helpful for commissaries, central kitchens and other offsite facilities provided prepared and other foods to grocery retailers.
The old version ran on the company’s server-based inventory management system. When At-Your-Service went 100% cloud-based, converting the service went on the back burner, Starobin said.
But increased demand from a growing commissary industry put it back front and center.
“We’re selling to enough bigger companies now,” Starobin said. “Users who had a single store are getting to the point where they have three, four stores, the magic number where they feel the need for a central kitchen.”
The commissary-specific software’s advantage is providing instant updates to recipes, regardless of their size. With Reciprofity, commissary and other offsite users can know the exact quantities of all ingredients and have them ordered instantly, keeping inventory accurate and avoiding food loss.
“Commissaries are designed to consolidate, to add efficiency, but if they’re not tracking what’s going out, did we waste anything,” they’re not taking full advantage of their business model, Starobin said.
Inventory management software also helps take a lot of the guesswork out of the work commissaries and retailers face in prepared food production, Starobin said.
“One of the issues I’ve heard from stores, from kitchen people, is that when it comes time to production and you have to make a large number of sandwiches, for example, there’s a lot of guesswork in that practice. Prep people pull out what they need and they never underestimate. And once it’s out of inventory, it doesn’t go back.”
In the case of the sandwiches, that means that maybe 30 tomatoes get pulled for the order instead of the 25 that are needed. Or if it’s a fruit like cantaloupe, prep cooks aren’t as careful about getting the maximum amount of usable fruit out of each piece, because they know that they’ve likely pulled more than is needed. With inventory management software, regardless of the size of the order, kitchen managers know instantly the exact amount of each ingredient needed.