5 Inventory Management Tips for Food Businesses


Inventory management is always more complex than it sounds in any business, but in the food business, it’s just so much more complicated than even the usual hassles of managing an inventory effectively. This is true because the items in the inventory come with very short and specific expiry dates, alongside having exclusive needs for proper storage conditions. Nevertheless, any primary or secondary food business that hopes to see success needs to do it with maximum efficiency, and we have five tips for you from the experts in the business, so that you can get it right without too much trial and error.

Hire Experienced Staff or Train the Fresh Recruits Properly

Particularly in a restaurant setting, the experience of the staff counts in more than just one facet of the business. However, inventory management in a direct food business is no joke and you will either have to hire staff who have actual experience with handling it, or train them for a short period, before putting them in charge of anything.

Even the experienced staff might need some training though, so it’s better to go through the processes with them a few times to fill in the knowledge gaps.

Invest in High-Quality Equipment

If you plan to make headway in the food business, you will require top quality equipment, and particularly so if you want your inventory to stay fresh, which is the main hassle here.

Visit the KPS Global website to take a look at their walk-in coolers and giant freezers to know about the kind of equipment that we are discussing here. They are a global MNC that manufacture and ship products to retail businesses, warehousing facilities, restaurants and even science labs around the globe.

KPS Global’s industrial walk-in coolers come with a 4-inch high density rail frame (INSULFRAME), a cove base, a flash-mount door, and are made to look pleasing to the eyes with an embossed galvalume finish covering the entire freezer. If you plan to be in the food business, you will need at least a few of these to keep your meat, poultry, veggies and fish fresh for a long time.

The FIFO Method Works Even Today with Astounding Accuracy

First In First Out (FIFO) is a time tested method of managing inventory in the food business and it has not let anyone down yet.

Just like the name suggests, the rule here is simple; the earlier an item was cooked in the kitchen, or taken out of the freezer, the faster it will need to be sold, or thrown out after a certain time has passed. The former is desirable than the latter for obvious reasons and letting that fact be clear to your employees is just as important!

The FIFO rule also extends to packed food as well, so the idea here would be to arrange and dispense the inventory of the business in accordance with the expiry date. The sooner the expiry date of a packed food item, the earlier it will be sent out or pushed for sale.

Matching Supply with Demand

Whether you are in the packed food business, or the restaurant business, the supply must match the sales figures closely, or you will end up overstocking or understocking; neither of which is ideal for running a profitable establishment. Nevertheless, initially, it’s better to understock than overstock, since that eliminates losses. Overstocking is a sign and result of inventory mismanagement, unless it was deliberate to prepare for an upcoming event.

The freezer can only hold up so much and for so long, irrespective of how good it is, therefore, it is of particular importance to match your supply with demand in the restaurant business. The rule of thumb is that it is better to run out of food at the end of the night, than to have leftovers in large quantities.

A large, unused supply of perishables will lead to losses, but even that can be a learning experience for better inventory management, albeit an expensive one!

A shorter supply of perishables on the other hand, will allow you to gauge the demands of every item and take notes for better management the next time around, without incurring losses.

It may take some time, but after a few days, you will get the hang of it, and matching supply with sales will be a more manageable affair.

Invest in Inventory Management Software

There are two technological aspects to successful inventory management in the food business; storage and software.

While KPS Global will take care of the storage technology for you, let one of the top inventory management systems take care of the rest. It eliminates the repetitive tasks, reduces the human error factor to a great degree and most importantly, an inventory management system saves a lot of time. Time that can then be put to better use by you and your employees elsewhere for the betterment of the business.

Even if you have an ancient system in the computer, it might be time to invest in something a lot more modern and feature-rich to make managing the stock a breeze. Just in case the business is reliant on pen and paper in 2019, you seriously need to reconsider that choice!

Before choosing though, go through the details, features and scalability of each software product to see which one would fulfill the specific needs of your business more appropriately, without costing too much.

For example, you don’t need to pay a premium price for a software system designed to manage a large industrial operation, when you can simply stick to a much simpler and less heavy-duty software solution that doesn’t nearly cost as much, but does the job you need it to.

Do understand that these are just some of the basics and there’s still a lot more you can do to improve inventory management in any food business. Nevertheless, these are the five which require the most attention when you are relatively new to the business.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. CascadeBusNews.com • CBN@CascadeBusNews.com

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