The Top 6 Food ERP Systems To Run Your Business On (2023 Picks)
April 20, 2023
Your food business faces pressure from every angle to be more efficient - with labor, with food waste, with profit margins… everything. As the industry becomes more competitive and consumers become more demanding, the need for razor-sharp efficiency is becoming the thing that separates profitable companies from barely-surviving ones.
Let’s take a look at the six best Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems for running a food business. These are not small tools for accomplishing siloed tasks, but full-operation systems that are proven and tested across the food industry. We’ll cover…
- Critical considerations to keep in mind during ERP evaluation
- Rundown of our top six food ERP picks
- Suggestions on how to make your investment into an ERP system stick
Whether you're a small foodservice startup or a large-scale manufacturer of prepared meals, a food ERP tool (that your team actually uses!) can put you on the path toward record efficiency and profitability—we just gotta find you the right one.
Let’s Talk About Food ERPs (Versus Other ERPs)
Most ERP systems were originally designed for accounting purposes, to help finance teams understand an organization's operations and forecast expenses, revenue, and such. Because they were built with this in mind, they are often not able to handle the complex needs of an industry as intricate as food.
It's no wonder that most ERP implementations in the food industry have failed in the past. They're difficult and time-consuming to use, requiring extensive training and a large investment of time and resources. Imagine being in a busy kitchen, trying to prepare a meal, and being forced to leave your station to enter numbers into an outdated and clunky ERP system. It's no wonder many food companies struggle to gain mass adoption of these tools (and end up giving up altogether).
That's where food ERP systems come in. They're enterprise resource systems that are specifically built or tailored to fit the unique needs of the food industry. Food ERP systems can handle many different tasks, including…
- Inventory and procurement
- Kitchen task management
- Recipe management
- Menu planning
- Food costing
- Financial planning
- and more
And because all of these systems live under one hub, they can all connect and integrate seamlessly, allowing for easy data sharing between teams.
By choosing a food ERP system that's tailored to the food industry and is user-friendly, food companies can streamline their operations and increase their efficiency. Instead of struggling with an outdated and difficult system, they can have a powerful tool that makes their jobs easier and more productive.
Also Read: We’re Living In The Stone Age of Food Software (And It’s Killing Us Slowly)
How To Choose A Food ERP System: 6 Things To Evaluate
Let’s look at six key factors to consider when evaluating food ERP systems.
Food Industry-Specific Features and Functions
It's important to look for features and functions that are specific to the food industry (you don’t want to end up with another re-skinned accounting ERP!).
For instance, in the event of a food safety issue, it's crucial to be able to trace the source of the problem back to specific ingredients used in a product. With the latest features in food ERP systems, companies can track the movement of ingredients and finished products through the supply chain to quickly identify any issues.
Another example of a unique need in the food industry is recipe management. Updating recipe information can be a cumbersome process involving numerous people and lots of back-and-forth communication. However, a food ERP system tailored to the needs of the food service industry can simplify the process by updating recipes into a central data hub accessible to all relevant parties.
Imagine a scenario where there's a food safety issue with romaine lettuce, and all of a sudden, you have to throw out all the remaining lettuce. This means a potentially large number of recipes need to be updated quickly, and kitchen workers need to be informed. Additionally, nutrition, procurement, finance, and other teams need access to the updated recipe information. A food ERP system that’s built to understand this can streamline the process of distributing information to all relevant parties as soon as a recipe is updated.
Also Read: Culinary OS: Explaining The New Push For A Universal Operating System
Integration With Other Business Systems and Tools
Ensuring your ERP can seamlessly integrate with other systems in your business is crucial. While it might not be possible to fit every process or system into the ERP, it's important to have the ability to connect and integrate that data with other systems to avoid data silos (and low operational visibility as a result).
One common integration for food ERP is the point of sale (POS) system. By integrating the POS system with the food ERP, you get access to real-time sales, customer purchasing habits, and other data. This allows companies to make data-driven decisions on managing marketing and pricing strategies.
Other systems you may need to double-check can be integrated:
- Vendor electronic data interchange (EDI) systems
- Warehouse management systems (WMS)
- Laboratory information management systems (LIMS)
- Supply chain, nutrition and allergen, labor and scheduling, and other systems
Overall, integration with other systems is essential for food companies to make informed decisions and operate efficiently.
User-Friendliness (Nobody Wants to Use Ancient Software)
Studies indicate that food companies have a significantly low adoption rate of food ERP software, standing at around 30%. This is even lower than the average adoption rate of ERP systems across all industries, which is 37%.
The primary reason for this is that the traditional ERP systems do not align with the daily routines and needs of kitchen workers. They don't want to spend their time on clunky software that doesn't add value to their work.
Therefore, when selecting an Erp system, user-friendliness is crucial. The system must be visually appealing and easy to use, so it doesn't feel like outdated technology from the 90s.
Also Read: Why The Galley Adoption Rate is Double the Food Industry Average
Rock-Solid Customer Support
When you're building your entire operation on an ERP system, there’s no such thing as too much customer support. Small bugs or delays can mean huge costs for your business (opportunity cost + real cost in the case of spoiled inventory, for example).
Make sure you are assigned a dedicated advocate for your account, with layers of backup people to contact in case of emergency. You should also require access to detailed resources such as training materials, user manuals, and community forums to help you maximize your use of the ERP system and help answer questions without having to track someone down.
Scalability Without Compromise
As your food business grows, so will your amassed data and operational requirements. Your ERP must be able to keep up with this growth and adapt to your evolving business practices.
True scalability means that your ERP can handle an increase in data volume, number of users, and processing power without sacrificing performance. It also means that the system can easily adapt to new business models, locations, and channels. A scalable ERP will save you the trouble and cost of having to switch to a new system in the future when your business outgrows its current capabilities.
Total Cost of Ownership
Don’t fall for the price tag you see on a food ERP’s website. Though the ultimate idea of an ERP is to save you money by way of gaining efficiency and organization, there are still costs to consider beyond the standard recurring fee. For example, engineering costs to create integrations with other systems, or the time it takes for internal ERP champions to train new team members and manage the use of the tool across your organization.
It’s critical to factor in all of these costs before signing on the dotted line so that you understand the complete investment required to achieve full adoption and long-term success.
Our Picks: The Top 6 Food ERP Software Providers
1. Galley Solutions
Galley is a Food ERP that calls itself a “culinary operating system” and is used by some of the most sophisticated and efficient food companies in the world, like DoorDash, Aramark, and Foxtrot. Galley is especially well-suited for foodservice companies, including restaurant chains, noncommercial foodservice organizations, and prepared meal companies.
Galley’s recipe-first approach turns your recipes into the building blocks that can be used and manipulated across your different culinary and business systems. For example, by connecting vendor pricing to your ingredients, you can price individual recipes, menus, or even months-worth of menus. And when those prices change (or your R&D team subs ingredients to improve recipes), those costings and forecasts update immediately.
2. JustFood ERP
JustFood is an ERP system built for enterprise food and beverage manufacturers. The software is used by food and CPG companies like Giant Eagle, DeMet’s, and Quaker Maid.
With JustFood ERP, you can track raw materials, manage production processes, and forecast sales. The software also helps with food safety compliance and inventory control. You will get a detailed understanding of your business's performance with fully integrated accounting modules and custom reporting tools.
3. Aptean for F&B
Aptean is an ERP tool that is not built just for the food and beverage industry, but still has a solid reputation as being a good fit for food production, manufacturing, and distribution companies. The ERP system is built largely around food safety and your supply chain, and isn’t a great fit for companies that need kitchen teams to use the software (like restaurants or prepared foods).
Aptean is best suited for a handful of specific sub-industries that have rigid compliance requirements: fresh produce, bakeries, and protein.
ApicBase primarily calls itself a Restaurant Management Platform, but it’s really a food ERP that’s fit for use for any foodservice operation. ApicBase’s users include Penta Hotels (Europe), Radboud Universiteit (Netherlands), and Bright Kitchen.
These organizations have recognized the value of ApicBase's functionality, which includes menu planning, nutrition analysis, inventory management, recipe management, and procurement, among other features. By utilizing ApicBase, these organizations are able to improve their sustainability, reduce waste, and make data-driven decisions to optimize their operations.
5. Sage Business Cloud X3 for F&B
Sage Business Cloud X3 is a major ERP solution that’s not specifically built for food companies, but does have some special add-on features that can be incorporated into your instance of the tool if you’re a food and beverage manufacturer.
Made especially for manufacturers, Sage X3 handles all things supply chain, warehousing and inventory, and food safety very well.
Jamix is an ERP tool built around kitchen and foodservice management for relevant business types, like restaurants and chains, cafeterias, and coffee shops. It is used by Yale Hospitality, Western Oregon University, and Fresh Ideas Foodservice Management.
This kitchen management software helps users accomplish a variety of tasks, like menu planning, nutrition analysis, inventory management, recipe management, and procurement.
Recap: Our Top Picks:
To keep you from having to scroll up to see our top picks again, here they are:
- Galley Solutions
- JustFood ERP
- Aptean for F&B
- Sage X3
Recommended Reading About Food ERPs and Tools
- Digitizing Kitchens Saves Lives
- The 4 Most Common Human Errors In Commercial Kitchens (+ Easy Fixes)
- How A 700-Unit Legacy Food Brand Unlocked Ghost Kitchen Opportunities By Ditching PowerPoint Recipes
- Food Cost Is King In The Food Industry, So Why Is It So Hard To Figure Out?
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