Yeah, we know. Those words send shivers down our spines too. It feels like it's straight out of a brewery horror flick - and a term that everyone wants to avoid at all costs!
Unfortunately, product recalls are a very real part of the brewing industry. If you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid having products recalled - that's awesome! But if you have had to do a product recall, you’ll understand the logistical nightmare it can cause for your brewery.
Whether it stems from moldy grain from a supplier or an action that went wrong during your brewing process - they happen.
We understand the impact a recall can have on your business. That’s why we’ve designed Beer30 to capture all the necessary data to assist you in the event of a product recall.
The Beer30 software traces all your processes - from procurement of raw materials, to production data, to sales and distribution, to finished goods traceability, and ultimately consumption versus disposal.
This helps you clarify when and where the product was produced, and by whom. All the essential information needed for a product recall is all there, at your fingertips, should you need it.
But, what about those of you who are using paper logs? You might be wondering exactly which data you need to be tracking, to ensure you are well positioned in the event of a product recall.
We’ve broken it down for you, into the six important categories Beer30 uses for grain to glass tracking, to ensure “True Traceability” throughout your entire process. We call it our traceability feedback loop.
True Traceability - From Grain-to-Glass, using Beer30, by The 5th Ingredient.
(1) Scheduling and planning of beer production
These are all the actions taken to manage allocation of resources. So, we’re talking:
- tank utilization
- availability of materials
- work schedules
- equipment availability (from tanks, to centrifuges, all the way up to packaging)
- uncooperative yeast
- product demand and current burn rate
If you have a process in place to monitor all these variables, you have a good understanding of your raw materials and can forecast production in advance.
Using the Planner Tool in Beer30, by The 5th Ingredient, to track each brew and actions that need to happen on a daily basis.
If you’re not doing this, you could end up being short on inventory.
This in turn can lead to an array of issues, in regards to a product recall. If you’re improvising, to use what’s at your disposal to make your beer, you’ll end up swapping out ingredients. This may mean that your beer may not be true-to-brand, and that it’s deviating from the consistency your customers are expecting. The lack of availability could also result in increased costs as you may have to overnight ingredients, or potentially hold beer in the tank for longer durations.
You need to track all substitutions, to ensure you have recorded what went into that brew, in the case of a product recall.
(2) Raw materials and yeast
How do you perform true inventory management?
You and your team should always annotate and dive in on the materials that are available to brew - and which brews they are used in. If you’re using a spreadsheet, it needs to ensure real time availability and usage history.
Our Beer30 brewery management software is equipped with an inventory management tool that allows full lot traceability for each grain, hop, and adjuncts.
If you want to get into the nitty gritty, Beer30 is the first brewery data management system in the industry to also break down yeast genealogy. This allows you to visually understand what is happening with yeast that is pitched, harvested, propagated, and everything that is tied in together.
It is a great way to understand the way your yeast connects on a per batch basis, and super vital in case of stalling fermentation or secondary fermentation due to yeast. Genealogy trees also help predict what may go wrong in future brews and fermentation processes.
These features are super handy for day to day operations of the business. But - they are also vital in the event of a product recall.
Yeast Genealogy Trees in Beer30 - perfect for understanding the health of each yeast node.
(3) Material traceability, packaging materials, and batch costs
For raw material traceability, your summaries should be breaking down your data into grains, hops, adjuncts and yeast - with actual full history of every lot number and cost that went into that brew.
Beer30 gives you the power to track ingredients by lot numbers, which is a crucial aspect for traceability, while also associating the true costs of goods associated with each ingredient.
This provides full usage history - from what batch you used a particular lot to what day you used a particular ingredient - all aggregating to indicate in what brew each ingredient went.
One of the key components of Beer30 lot traceability is that you are NOT locked out of brewing if the inventory doesn’t exist. A brewer can simply mark it as ‘Not Tracked’ and reconcile after the brew.
Lot Traceability and ‘Not Tracked’ Inventory in Beer30 prevents a brewer from being locked out of brewing if ingredients are not present in the software.
All this information is available instantly, saving you the time and the stress of having to go through paper logs and filing cabinets. Beer30 also warns you if the ingredient dips below a certain threshold, so you can order for future brews.
For packaging, you want to break the information down into bottling, canning and kegging, along with different items and costs, such as branded labels for cans vs pre-printed cans.
Paying attention to this data will mean you can really understand the true cost of goods sold, for each brand, and more importantly, for each batch number. Since your beer is focused on remaining true-to-brand, the costs should not fluctuate from batch-to-batch, and when you start analyzing the data further, you may even find some savings.
And most importantly, if you are faced with a product recall from a supplier - you will know exactly what lot numbers went into which brew. You will know every single beer that was tied in to that ingredient, making it easy to understand the value of beer inventory that the supplier may even need to reimburse you for on a batch-by-batch cost.
(4) Beer Distribution and Sales
How often do you break down your sales reports? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?
Your sales report should piece together all your data points. You can then answer the really important questions:
- How much did it cost you to make this beer?
- What are your revenue streams?
- How are your sales reps performing?
- How are your accounts and distributors doing?
Basically - what's happening in your business?
The more frequently you assess this data, the more you will understand what’s happening in your day to day operations. Where you are making money - and where you can save.
From a traceability point of view, this is the first step of understanding which beer brands are going to each account, in what packaging format (kegs / bottles / cans), and on what days.
Sales Reports in Beer30 - breakdown by week / month / year; packaging SKU; revenue and volume.
(5) Sales Traceability of your Beer
At Beer30, we go a step further. We have included a Sales Traceability Module, giving you the power to track all the finer details of actual batch numbers, as your warehouse team loads orders onto a truck.
This will help assess product locations in the event of a product recall.
If you’re not properly tracking these batch numbers, the most that you know is that a particular brand went to a location, but you would need to reach out to each account to see if they have that actual batch number. By having the team assign batch numbers to each order as it’s loaded, you will be able to assess immediately the extent of damage in case of a product recall.
If you’re not using Beer30, you can definitely track these batch numbers onto a spreadsheet, or even hand write them onto the official printout copy! But -- by using our Beer30 Sales Traceability module you will know exactly which raw materials were used for each batch - and exactly which location that batch went to - all at the click of a button.
Assign batch numbers to each Sales Order / Tax Invoice for cans, bottles, and kegs in Beer30.
(6) Keg Tracking
A third level of analysis would be to dive in further into the serial numbers for each keg. This becomes particularly powerful if you have your own fleet of kegs and want to see exactly which location has had that serialized keg number.
Keg Tracking is also powerful to understand exactly what’s been in the kegs and for how long -- and can help validate that you’re properly sterilizing kegs as you brew and package different styles of beers.
Steps for a product recall - trace your batch history
So it’s happened - you’ve been notified of a product recall.
Take a deep breath - everything is okay!
If you have taken the steps you need to do in order to prepare for this moment, it’s not going to be as bad as you think.
Here are the steps to take, in the event of a product recall:
- Identify the ingredients or processes that led to issue
- Understand all batches that would be impacted by ingredients
- Identify each account and locations where the batch number was sold and when it was delivered
- Notify appropriate parties / customers
- Retrieve and dispose of products
Run sales traceability reports in Beer30 to track the location and $ value for each product for a brand and batch.
Ensure grain-to-glass traceability with Beer30
Beer30 allows you to run reports that cover every aspect of your brewing process.
For example, if a supplier contacts you about an issue with a raw material - you can select a date range, and identify all brands and batches with a particular lot number - or particular ingredient.
This means you can track down all the brews affected, within minutes.
Should you discover a process issue that resulted in infected beers being shipped out the door, pick a brand and batch, and know exactly which accounts to target to request a product recall.
Because of how user friendly and intuitive we’ve designed Beer30, our brewery management software, you can have all this information at your fingertips.
Reach out and to learn more about True Grain-to-Glass Traceability. We can walk you through our system - and show you how it can make your life easier!