Internationalisation of automation in the Fresh Produce trade

Internationalization of automation in the Fresh Produce trade

In the past two years, Schouw Informatisering noticed a remarkable growth in the number of requests for international ERP projects from the Fresh Produce market. On the one hand from existing Dutch clients that want to automate offices abroad using SI Foodware Fresh Produce, which is based on Dynamics ERP. On the other hand from foreign fresh produce traders that show their interest in the application either through international SI Foodware partners or directly. “Over 30% of all applications and projects in which we are involved currently have an international character”, according to Commercial Director Danny Cevaal of Schouw Informatisering.

Motives internationalization Fresh Produce trade

This increased need is caused by a number of factors. “Fresh Produce traders are opening more and more sales offices abroad in order to cater to the local market. In addition, Sourcing, and especially Global Procurement, has a major influence on this trend. Consumers want to buy all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables in the supermarket all year round. Goods will therefore have to be bought from countries with different harvest times and in different climate zones, mostly in the southern hemisphere. We can conclude that the power those suppliers have, has rapidly increased. This is because Europe is only one of their clients. They can also sell their harvest to emerging markets, such as Asia. That is why it has become a big challenge to get more grip on the suppliers and the beginning of the supply chain. For that reason, the role the Fresh Produce companies play, in particular the importers, is becoming more and more international. They open offices abroad for example, sell local trade offices or form strategic partnerships with certain suppliers. For that reason, a growing number of countries require an ERP solution that responds to this”, said Cevaal.

Demands to ERP: Focus on supply chain integration and the role of the supplier

SI Foofdware Fresh Produce is a very complete ERP solution with an extensive warehousing functionality for international wholesalers. The requirements with regard to performing international work are taken into account here. Examples include 24/7, multi-currency, multi-language and local legislation.

In addition to supply chain integration, the service towards the suppliers is of great importance. Suppliers (growers) can directly view purchase orders as well as the status and payments of their batches. They can also receive immediate feedback about the batches’ quality. The growers can even make changes for as long as the order is open.

Various international automation strategies

There are three automation strategies that are principally applied by the Fresh Produce traders. The first is a decentralized strategy: all the international offices of a group are responsible for the automation. Cevaal: “For example, within the international Total Produce we have individually automated multiple organizations, such as Total Produce Rotterdam, Total Exotics Europe and Arctic Produce. Every one of these companies has a unique position or product focus in the group, which requires a specific automation strategy.”

The second strategy is a centrally controlled approach in which all branches work in the exact same way within the same database. This strategy could be applied to the SI Foodware Fresh Produce client Capespan, for example. The exact same work strategy is applied in one database on eight locations all over the world. That way, they have to maintain only one database and they can quickly report the prestations to the entire group.

The third strategy is called the kernel approach. With this strategy, the different (international) locations use a basic default set-up as a starting point. From there, they can further adjust the package to their own demands per location. Cevaal: “This allows you, for instance, to anticipate the unique features of the local trade offices, suppliers, Fresh Produce offers and regulations. And you can still consolidate the most important data and consistently report about it. Our client, Best Fresh Group, uses this strategy at multiple locations.”

Which international automation strategy is right for you?

Every day more than 70 national and international Fresh Produce companies use Schouw Informatisering’s ERP solutions. But according to Cevaal, every Fresh Produce organization is unique. “No range, organizational culture, supplier portfolio, vision, strategy, procedure or company culture is the same. However, they do have one thing in common: they all want to get rid of the burden that is automation. That will allow them to focus on realizing their enterprise’s growth ambition. We can assist you with this on a national and international level.”