A Better Way to Manage Perishable Inventory

Accurate forecasts will also support store associates during the fresh food preparation process

According to NACS research, food service sales continue to grow in the c-store retail sector, even after the big COVID bump. However, not all retailers are maximizing the profit opportunities of their freshly prepared foods, leaving it up to Store Associates to guess or go with their gut.

Retailers that sell fresh foods and beverages, like convenience stores, gas stations, and some general stores, need help optimizing their forecasting, replenishment, and daily preparation process to ensure maximum freshness and minimize spoilage.

Consumers looking for fresh food products want these foods and beverages available and at peak freshness, which may require daily preparation. Retailers must balance availability and freshness while keeping up with demand. Fresh food products are by nature perishable and have variable shelf lives. This adds complexity to managing fresh food stock. Additionally, demand for certain items changes with the day of the week, the time of year and the locations of the stores.

A solution, like 4R’s One Predictive Engine takes these factors into consideration. Not only will it ensure the optimal amount of fresh food inventory is available at each store, it also provides support for the in-store employee to know exactly how many items to prep on a given day, and when to pull out the ingredients if thawing is necessary.

This demand forecasting and planning tool also helps retailers predict and order fresh foods at the ingredient level. This feature ensures that there are enough ingredients for each recipe of assembled and prepared foods. Stores sell these fresh foods at the item level, not the ingredient level. The 4R solution forecasts how many items will be sold, then breaks down those items into the ingredient components through a Recipe Mapper. This way, each store knows how much to have on hand at the ingredient level and can produce the sellable items for that day or week. C-stores will see an increase in prepared food availability and reduction in waste and loss due to better demand forecasting, automated ordering and replenishment. Store associates will also be more efficient because they no longer have to guess what and how much food to prepare every day.

Forecasting and tracking perishable inventory helps to maintain accurate stock levels and identify expired stock. The risk associated with perishable inventory is that the unsold products may expire with no residual value, leading to the entire investment and the sales opportunities being lost.  Utilizing an innovative demand planning solution, like the 4R One Predictive Engine can be a game changer for retailers that sell fresh foods and beverages in their store locations, like convenience stores and gas stations. It can help retailers ensure customer satisfaction, improve customer retention, reduce costly waste, move closer to its sustainability goals and maintain a positive brand image.