BOSTON – Kraft Heinz is working with Spoiler Alert to step up food waste mitigation efforts.
Boston-based software company helps perishable CPG brands manage excess, slow-moving inventory. Working exclusively at the factory or distribution center level, it offers a B2B sales platform that allows food and beverage brands to manage their liquidation processes across private networks of discount retailers and non-profit channels. Companies including The Campbell Soup Co., Danone, KeHE, and HelloFresh use the platform to manage their B2B liquidation efforts.
“You can think of it as an operating system for sales and supply chain managers to manage their stressed sales efforts,” said Ricky Ashenfelter, co-founder and chief executive officer of Spoiler Alert. “Companies are absorbing distressed inventory data into our cloud-based platform and leveraging our workflows to communicate sales opportunities, collect offers from their unique buyer network, and allocate inventory – faster, with fewer errors and with longer shelf life. . “
Spoiler Alert provides data on what is being sold and not resold to the supply chain and sales leaders so they can develop a better understanding of how to best navigate future fluctuations, capture products with longer shelf life and more time to redistribute in the market.
“Demand planning remains an equal part of the arts and sciences,” said Ashenfelter. “Until producers can use forecast tools that can predict the weather perfectly, change consumer behavior or natural disasters, supply chain managers will always be faced with advantages and disadvantages.”
Shelf life is the most pervasive example of the stress that supply chain manufacturers face when dealing with excess or slow moving inventory. Manufacturers typically use sales in the secondary market when inventory is close to a fixed date coding guarantee with their primary retail customer.
“This is not an expiration date, and often products still have a shelf life of weeks or months to work with,” says Ashenfelter.
Other examples include seasonal items such as holiday-themed products or flavors, discontinued items and promotional items.
“As one example, a major producer shared with us stories about branding a number of their SKUs for a major film release scheduled for last summer,” said Ashenfelter. “As the pandemic hits and release dates are issued, retailers are backing away from bringing themed SKUs for films that consumers haven’t been excited about. Things like this happen all the time. “
Most companies rely on manual workflows for liquidation. The process is error-prone and time-consuming and may end up shaving off days or weeks of shelf life, resulting in food that is never sold or eaten. Companies can take advantage of the Spoiler Alert platform to maximize value recovery, strengthen relationships with discount retailers, and improve supply chain manager efficiency.
After the initial launch of the Spoiler Alert platform, Kraft Heinz increased the speed of offering inventory to customers by 75% and reduced overall inventory processing time by 50%.
“Given the diversity of products we sell across multiple channels with varying coded dates, our sales solutions team takes great care in handling excess and slow moving inventory by working with multiple partners to eliminate waste,” said Mike Ridenour, head of industry relations. and sales operations at Kraft Heinz. “We are driven by the functionality that the Spoiler Alert platform offers us from an automation, intelligence and analytics perspective.”
Mitigating food waste is a top priority for the company, added Jacob Saxon, head of US sales solutions.
“Our goal is to get more products into the hands of consumers through our value channel retailers who specialize in opportunistic buying,” says Saxon. “Spoiler Alert has allowed us to take this effort to another level, enabling our team to better partner with our key retail customers and respond more quickly to supply fluctuations.”
Along with supporting food waste mitigation, the Spoiler Alert platform can help companies address issues around food insecurity.
“There has been a significant increase in discount retail over the past 12 months,” said Ashenfelter. “This increase in demand comes from two things. One has to do with the impact of a pandemic on public health, the other has to do with the financial impact of the pandemic. “
Both traditional and discount traders are seeing increased demand as consumers shift spending from the food service channel to home meal prep, he said. What matters more is an increase in unemployment and food insecurity. More than 10 million Americans are currently unemployed, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Millions of others are unemployed. Feeding America estimates more than 50 million Americans are food insecure, up from 35 million before COVID.
“As the unemployment rate and food insecurity increase, not surprisingly, so does the demand for more affordable food options,” said Ashenfelter. “Value channel retail and nonprofits provide an important source of nourishment for millions of Americans in difficult times as well as good times.”