Explaining Micro-Reduction and Processing

Seeds are great food. They are great additives to salads and other food items. They are not only a great source of nutrition; they also add a great flavour and crunchy texture to the food they are added to. But seeds are difficult to process from supply chain point of view. They are live. They are the source of life of new plant and contain the essentials for growth and nutrition of seedlings. They are designed by nature to sustain harsh conditions and yet grow into a plant when conditions are right.  However, this very advantage of theirs is the reason that they are favourite of bacteria (such as salmonella) and fungus as well. Seeds can develop pathogens at any time during their transportation and storage. The long duration of storage before they are consumed, makes them susceptible to develop pathogens at any time during their journey from the plant to the table. Not only that, during their journey there is a risk that the seed may die, losing essential enzymes and proteins and thus changing its taste. Because of these reasons seed processing and packaging requires a special setup for their supply chain management. An experienced 3PL would have a separate processing for seeds and grains to ensure high yield and high viability of the seeds, when it reaches to the table of the end consumer.

 

Seeds are grown and transported across thousands of kilometres. They move from the places where nature intended them to reproduce to places where human intend to consume them. The transportation to the place of consumption and place of consumption itself are harsh for the seeds and full of pathogens that seeds are not designed to sustain. Not only that, seeds collect waste, stones and sometimes metal pieces while being processed by machines. The net effect is that the yield of useful, edible, high quality seed is very low. There are numerous incidents when the whole batch of seeds has been rejected due to health considerations. The sterilization process controls the pathogens in the seed and enables the batch to meet the health and safety standards by following the below mentioned steps.

 

Large screening: The heavy contamination particles (stones, metal, droppings) are easier to remove. Filtering the seed through right mesh size and passing through a metal screen usual does a great work of removing these. However, for finer contamination, such as bird droppings, feathers, light weed seeds etc. the process is little tricky. The blow air technique is used to filter these. The seeds are passed through of flow of air. The air pressure is just right so that everything except the seed is blown away and just the seeds drop in the collection bin or for very light seeds, just the seeds are blown and collected and everything else drops in the waste collection.

 

Sterilization: There are various processes that reduce the bacteria, mould and general infectious substances in the seed. For example, fumigation is passing antibacterial fumes through the seed. While it kills the bacteria, it leaves small amount of chemical on the seed. These can be cleaned with water, but that brings its own challenges.  Dry heat processing kills the germs very effectively. Process the seed through very high heat for little time. However, this process is known to alter the taste of the seed. The seeds tend to retain the heat and get cooked (even if by a very small amount). Some seeds even die and change the texture completely due to heat. Dry steam processing is another technique that claims to give good results, but suffers from drawback of exposing the seed to very high temperatures and it also leaves some residual water on the seed. Though all the techniques are excellent, none of them offer high yield assurance with little or no change to the flavour and texture of the seed. Pasteurization, fumigation, irradiation etc. have not really met the expectation that customers have from a sterilization process.

A newer technique of organic micro reduction which involves using oxygen to kill bacteria like salmonella has much higher yield. The seed is coated with a liquid solution. The solution harnesses the power of oxygen to neutralize the pathogens and provides total coverage. The liquid then biodegrades leaving the seed unaltered. The seed is completely safe, sterilized, organic, raw and viable, just as nature intended it to be. The validated intervention system ensures application to every individual seed. The complete commercial system such as NEO PURE also includes the option of a dryer, where the seeds are coated with solutions that dry off faster to ensure completely dry consistent seeds, leaving a completely dry and viable seed. The process is used by many suppliers for almost any kind of non-sprouted grain and non-sprouted seed.

Repackaging and screening: The processed seeds are then packed into small quantity packing as required for retail. The care must be taken that the packing material is itself sterilized and free of all micro bacterial culture, and does not allow any water or air to pass into the packing, to the seeds during shipping and storage. The retail packs are then passed through a final metal screening to ensure that there is no metal piece that has escaped into the final outgoing product. This screening is usually done using x-ray technique which is harmless to the seeds.

 

 

So, as we see that seeds and grains are gaining popularity as food toppings, right from breads to salads; it is imperative that vendors adapt to newer sterilization techniques for better business results. With newer techniques of sterilization, the vendor can ensure that his seeds are safe, healthy and nutritious, when they reach the consumer and we all know that Happy Customers mean Happy Business!

10 Myths About E-commerce Fulfilment Solutions

The high paced growth of the E-commerce sales channel has given immense boost to the E-commerce Fulfillment Solutions and various Third Party Logistics companies. However, there exists a wide section of the market – especially the smaller, newer e-commerce players who debate the concepts of outsourcing their Fulfillment operations or for that matter, even consider a professional Fulfillment solution. So here’s an attempt to break certain myths about the whole order Fulfillment solution and put things into perspective.

  1. Getting orders is tough; Order Fulfillment is easy.

Right and wrong. While the base of any business is getting more and more orders for your products, it is equally important to have a seamless, cost effective and fully optimized order Fulfillment process in place to ensure repeat customers, better revenues and even better profits. Many small and new businesses believe that having a good product to sell is a war won. However, what they miss is that order Fulfillment is a giant that will slowly grow so big that it would be tedious and not profitable to do it all by themselves.

  1. Fulfillment solutions are only for the BIGGIES.

A BIG Myth. Fulfillment solutions can benefit businesses of any scale. The key is to tap on the right Fulfillment partner for your business’s need. A bit of research and having clarity of what you need from your Fulfillment partner can be far more beneficial and economical than doing it all by yourself.

  1. Fulfillment Solutions Are Expensive.

At the first look of it – Yes they are! But have a closer detailed look and you would know that it’s an investment that saves you a lot more expense at a later point…maybe even today. If you are an ecommerce merchant handling your own order Fulfillment, you know how high your fixed costs have gone. You can cut them down by outsourcing your order Fulfillment to a specialized Fulfillment solution provider. Imagine not having to bear the cost of that warehouse?

  1. Order Fulfillment solutions are only friends of ‘volumes’.

No doubt, volumes ensure better profits but Fulfillment solutions are profitable to all. Smaller businesses often go through fluctuations in their sale volumes. Festivals and special occasions can sometimes give a huge spike which can become highly difficult to manage in terms of product deliveries. Having a Fulfillment partner ensures that you receive the scale up and down of order Fulfillment resources without having to either increase your fixed costs or lose market credibility with poor deliveries.

  1. We’re too small to have complex systems and processes

Small e commerce ventures believe that having Fulfillment solutions may end up complicating their otherwise simple delivery process. On the contrary, if you wish to grow and scale up your business in future, it is far more important to have your processes put right at an early stage. Looking in to detailing at the start and letting Fulfillment experts set up your base can actually save you lot of time, money and effort of revamping at a later stage.

  1. We know them best- Our Business, Our Customers

Most retailers are driven by the thought that they know their business and their customers well and no third party can match up to the standards of reaching out to their customer. Remember, just like you, the 3PL or Fulfillment solution providers are experts of their business and your delivery services may actually not match up to their efficiency and standards. Let the experts do the job!

  1. We’ll lose sight and control.

Business owners worry that having their warehouse stocking, logistics and shipping out of their main system may lead to losing sight of their product and control on their deliveries. However, the truth is that modern Fulfillment solutions give better control and visibility to business owners. With providers offering real time tracking, order Fulfillment can be a cake walk.

  1. It’s Only Packing and Shipping! What Extra would They Do?

Most small to mid-size companies are not fully aware of the offerings of modern day 3PL’s and thus fail to see the benefit. Order Fulfillment companies are way beyond a pick, pack, ship player. Their extensive value added services can really help your business grow.

  1. They may stunt our growth

For the ambitious ones, being stuck with a Fulfillment partner is a scary thought. The truth, however, is having selected a ‘fit to your needs’ Fulfillment partner and having a great working rapport can in reality help you scale faster than you could do yourself.  Your partner scales up as your business grows.

  1. What if my inventory is slow moving? It’ll be far more expensive.

Yes, it’s a fact that there may be chances of you paying much extra on storage for slow moving inventory. However, collaborating with a good Fulfillment partner who gives you a good picture of your stock and stats, can help you avoid the scenario of SMI in the first place. Additionally, Fulfillment solution providers offer value added services like promotions in order delivery which can help the slow inventory pick pace.