With great revenue potential comes great shrink responsibility.
Walking into the store for your weekly grocery run often seems like a chore. You want fresh foods and a reliable selection; you don’t have any time to spare for an unpleasant shopping experience. A freshly prepared selection of warm sandwiches is exactly the help you need for your busy schedule. An in-store deli is perfect for on-the-go people like you who want fresh, pre-made foods and absolutely zero hassle.
Customers love the deli for prepared foods, sliced meats and cheeses, and even catering needs. But for grocers, the deli is often a major culprit of massive ingredient shrink. In a post-pandemic world, the rise in consumer demand for fresh prepared foods has deli sections handling 24.2% more volume than they did in 2019.
All this growth brings about a growing shrink. Shrink is even more prevalent in commissary stores that produce deli items for distribution to other stores. Deli shrink results from various factors; here are five of the most common:
- Waste and Spoilage- Delis use a variety of ingredients like cured meat and artisanal cheeses that spoil easily when not stored or used properly. This type of ingredient shrink results in unnecessary waste and higher costs for the grocery store.
- Overwhelming Kitchen Math- Managing ingredients and recipes in the deli often leaves complicated kitchen math to associates, resulting in major shrink.
- Incorrect Ordering Practices- Deli Associates balance production tasks, with ordering raw ingredients that are running out, while answering customer queries across the counter. This requires them to do the kitchen math around what to order resulting in over ordering or under ordering of ingredients which in turn results in spoilage.
- Vendor Short Supply- Often, vendors supply directly to store and they can end up supplying lesser quantity than the one mentioned in the invoice leading to short supply.
- Inventory Mismanagement- Poor inventory management is a massive cause of ingredient shrink. Ingredients that are improperly tracked, ordered, and stored result in spoilage and waste.
- Poor Preparation Practices- Improper slicing or prep practices often leads to shrink since the end product might not end up going to display sections at all.
- Production Balancing Act- Overwhelmed deli associates may find their excess of tasks often lowers quality of work. If a watermelon can typically be sliced up and create 8 20oz cups, but the grocer consistently only sees 5 or 6 cups per watermelon, the results is likely higher shrink.
There are endless scenarios in which a grocery store deli ends up with totally unnecessary shrink. Managing and calculating inventory shrinkage is no easy task, especially without the right resources. Thankfully, there are a number of strategies retailers can implement to tackle and minimize and prevent inventory shrinkage of ingredients. Just some include:
- Proper Storage- Ingredients should be stored in a manner that keeps them the freshest for the longest time, reducing or completely avoiding spoilage. The added benefit of keeping foods safe for consumption involves regulated temperature monitoring, moisture control, and specific packaging.
- Accurate Portion Control- Easy way to ensure shrink reduction is to ensure that only the correct amount of ingredients is used in each recipe. Proper associate training consistent systems and regulations will decrease the likelihood of wasted ingredients during recipe creation.
- Effective Inventory Management- Another important factor could be introducing software that links inventory accuracy with recipe management, automating deli processes to guarantee physical inventory count is up to date and accurate. Monitoring ingredients and adjusting production levels accordingly is crucial to eliminating overproduction and waste.
- Timely Ordering and Delivery- Grocery delis benefit greatly from efficient, automated ordering systems that can track ingredients in a timely manner, reducing the risk of expiration and spoilage. and also work with suppliers to ensure timely delivery and proper storage of ingredients upon arrival.
- Digital Recipe Books- Technology that optimizes recipe management will maintain ingredient inventory and create instructions that are not only easy to follow but are accurate and up-to-date.
Introducing these strategies and leveraging the right technology can help grocers largely reduce deli-caused ingredient shrink and improve overall efficiencies.