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Australia’s largest poultry producer Ingham’s has some busy seasonal trading periods to accommodate, and predicting the demand is a complicated process.

Given that Ingham’s processes 200 million birds each year, the company relies on careful planning and complex calculations to make sure its various products arrive fresh on supermarket shelves in the correct quantities, as and when required.

Sales of turkeys increase substantially over Christmas. Planning for Christmas turkey production starts early in September, including any plans for promotions or seasonal ranges, and relies on accurate data on forecasting retailers’ requirements two to three months ahead, including any plans for promotions or seasonal ranges.

Also, demand for convenient, ready-to-serve barbecue chicken tends to increase during warmer weather.

However, the dynamics of poultry production and working with fresh produce with only a limited shelf-life means having to carefully manage inventory to avoid stock losses and wastage.

“We have to get things right first time,” says Ingham’s demand planning manager Chee Foong.

“The retail and quick-service restaurant market environment is very dynamic, so we want to be more proactive by using technology for collaborative forecasting and getting much more efficient at what we do.”

To this end, Foong says, the company has implemented demand planning software to help more accurately forecast how many chickens and turkeys supermarkets are likely to require over busy times such as in the lead up to Christmas.

Ingham selected FuturMaster demand planning software in a bid to increase its forecast accuracy and be much more responsive to seasonal fluctuations in demand.

“We now have a sophisticated tool-set in place for matching demand plans with production,” says Foong. “With the help of FuturMaster, we expect an uplift in service levels and increased forecast accuracy.”

The first phase of FuturMaster’s cloud-based software implementation went live in April 2018, and Ingham’s says it intends to add more advanced promotion planning capabilities.

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