Food supplier taps into on-trend demands with Futurmaster software

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Winterbotham Darby stays on top of the latest food trends. Pic: Winterbotham Darby
Winterbotham Darby stays on top of the latest food trends. Pic: Winterbotham Darby

Related tags Supply and demand

Winterbotham Darby, which supplies own-label chilled food produced in Europe to UK supermarkets, has expanded from continental meats, olives, antipasti and tapas into fresh pasta, seasonal snacks, bakery and frozen desserts.

To stay ahead of food shopping trends, such as increased sales of olives during warm weather or rising demand for low-salt ranges, it has installed Demand and Supply Planning software from Futurmaster.

Artificial intelligence

The software helps Winterbotham Darby generate more accurate short, medium and long-term forecasts for sales, which are sent out to its manufacturing partners across Europe.

Since deploying the technology, the company has been able to optimise stock levels.

Before the implementation of Futurmaster, we had to rely on multiple, linked spreadsheets with complex formula and manual data entry. This posed a business risk if anything ever went wrong with them​,” said Simon Dancy, group planning manager, Winterbotham Darby.

The forecasting technology uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to pinpoint seasonal fluctuations in demand.

The software can plan promotions and manage the ordering of raw materials and packaging across a range of cold meats and fresh ingredients from multiple suppliers and manufacturers.

Improved planning has led to reductions in stock holdings and more streamlined deliveries to supermarkets.

Dancy said with increased category growth and expanding production in the UK, it implemented Futurmaster’s MRP (Materials Resource Planning) to manage the ordering of raw and packaging materials.

The MRP module enables information on annual demand to be gathered for the group buyer to negotiate contracts for the procurement of annual olive crops and other ingredients.

Expanded capacity

The system also allows a procurement team to place orders at a SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) level based on the lead-times required by the suppliers, ensuring raw materials are available to support the production plan.

It supplies 750 finished goods SKU’s, and 450 ingredient and packaging SKU’s on a daily basis.

As part of the investment, Winterbotham Darby has expanded capacity at its UK manufacturing site, including new equipment and processes.

With a majority of the company’s inbound freight being managed internally using third party logistics providers, Dancy said it has recently started utilising analyser tools within Futurmaster Supply Planning.

At any one time, its products can be on promotion with their retail customers. It uses a separate Futurmaster Advance Promotions Management (APM) tool to manage these promotions internally.

The commercial team discuss promotional plans several months in advance. The APM module of Futurmaster gives information to commercial, finance and planning departments on the impact of promotional activity. Once confirmed, the promotions feed forecast volume into the Demand Planning, Supply Planning and MRP modules.

We’ve built a system that links to our warehouse management and ERP systems, and communicates seamlessly with daily input and output interfaces​,” said Dancy.

Using the Futurmaster software means we can quickly review and manage planned promotions​.”

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