Succeeding as a Food Distributor

Are you asking yourself whether you need specific ERP software for food distributors? The short answer is yes. As a food distributor you may think you can use general business software, but food distribution adds many additional layers to the complexity of an industrial goods distribution business. Food safety regulations impose handling, reporting and tracking requirements. In addition, the food chain of custody requires products to be lot-controlled with expiry dates and tracked for potential recalls. Food items also often require catch weight pricing which adds to the complexity. Most recently, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, you probably also have to be able to support eCommerce options. In short, if you don’t have specialized ERP software for food distributors you are likely not operating as efficiently as you could.

Inventory Management

All distributors need to be able to track the inventory levels of all products and manage reordering to balance the risk of stockouts against over-investing in inventory. This is even more critical for perishable food items that have expiry dates - so you have to turn your inventory more quickly. Food and beverage items are often stocked in multiple package sizes and so your ERP software for food distributors has to support multiple units of measure for the same item. You also need ERP software for food distributors that supports inventory by location and can schedule picking of refrigerated and frozen items last.

Lot-Control and Expiry Date

Lot-control that records the Lot No, Expiry Date and Location of every item in and out is a must-have feature of any ERP software for food distributors. You need to be able to track a food item’s lot no, expiry date and location so you can find it. You need to be able to pick products to fill orders based on Expiry Dates so that the oldest items go out first. Also, in the event of potential health and safety or contamination issues you need to be able to report on the history of a lot-controlled item – when it came in, where it was stored, when it went out, to whom, etc. This is not available in most general distribution software.

Catch Weight

Many standard food items are of variable weight and so your ERP software for food distributors has to support catch weight pricing to enable stocking by the box or case but pricing by the pound. Most standard off-the-shelf software won’t support catch weight, so make sure your ERP software can.

Scanning Barcodes

Often catch weight products are weighed by the manufacturer and shipped with the information on: the product, the manufacturer, the Lot no, the expiry date, the weight and the weight measure, all contained in one compound barcode. If you cannot read this in one scan and record it, you’re asking for recording errors and possible compliance issues. Accolent ERP software for food distributors has a configurable barcode scanner that can do just this. Using a configurable scanner for picking, packing, and shipping operations, records and updates all the lot no, expiry date, weight and location information at the same time in addition to just tracking inventory quantity. This will not only cut down on entry errors but will also speed up fulfillment – which is important with food items.

eCommerce Options

The Coronavirus pandemic has created a new normal and made the need for eCommerce all the more critical. Food distributors must provide eCommerce options that allow existing customers to place, track and pay for their orders remotely on their own. This is required in dealing with any institutional food industry customers that have multiple locations: fast food restaurants, prisons, cafeterias, etc. Also, there is a growing foodie trend of consumers wanting to order specialty food items directly online. Accolent ERP software for food distributors allows you to get in front of this by providing online stores so that customers can search for and order directly.


If you are struggling to keep up with the complexities of your distribution business, it may be because your ERP software for food distributors isn’t doing enough for you. Contact us to see how Accolent ERP software for food distributors can deliver all the tools you need.