How a frozen food brand tamed their deliciously complex supply chain

In the heart of America is a global frozen food brand with a mission: To make the most delicious food using the best quality ingredients. However, with 330 suppliers providing 1,800 SKUs that span six categories of raw materials, they recognized the need for a solution to optimize their highly complex supply chain.


“Our goal is to make the most delicious food with the best quality ingredients, and this brings complexity into our supply chain.”

– Nigel Batchem, senior director of planning, Amy’s Kitchen

Amy’s Kitchen offers 250 types of food products to consumers all over the world. In the United States alone, they have three production plants that deliver products to five regional distribution centers. Sourcing ingredients is difficult – even more so with agricultural items, where planning is done 18 months ahead. A highly complex supply chain, wouldn’t you agree?

Planning a highly complex supply chain with spreadsheets

Amy’s Kitchen were creating production schedules with spreadsheets, which then had to be manually entered into their ERP system. As a result, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Recipes were misinterpreted, production days mixed up, material quantities and dates incorrect. Their material planners had to manually check everything they were given — a step that can be eliminated with intelligent production planning.

To add to the complexity, Amy’s Kitchen had another planning puzzle to solve: staffing. They go through great lengths to offer full-time employment to all their workers. However, they were limited by their scheduling capabilities.

For example, scheduling in their Santa Rosa plant meant choosing the right combination of items that would add up to the total number of people they needed. They had to schedule each day within 4 percent of their total labor pool, so that they could give everyone full-time employment.

“We take great pains to offer full-time employment to all our workers. Unfortunately, this challenged our scheduling capabilities.”

The good news? Amy’s Kitchen were aware that they needed help to cope with the complexity of the supply chain. Most importantly, they recognized the need to improve efficiency and reduce costs. But now came the most difficult part: Finding the right solution.

“Our software doesn’t do that”

How often have you heard these words when looking for a solution to your highly complex supply chain?

The complexity of your supply chain operations shouldn’t scare off software vendors. In fact, an intelligent supply chain planning and optimization software should help you master everything from big-picture strategic planning to the smallest detail on the day of operations.

I encourage you to download our latest eBook, 8 things companies need to do for a successful 2017, and learn more about the journey of Amy’s Kitchen to optimized production efficiency, improved material planning and healthier stock levels.


Image source: Amy’s Kitchen on Facebook

This post was previously published on LinkedIn.