In Shakespeare’s classic play, Julius Caesar, Caesar was warned by a soothsayer to “Beware the Ides of March.” The Ides of March fall on the 15th of the month in our present day calendar. The date was a national holiday in Roman times, a day to settle all debts and a forerunner of tax day (April 15) in the US, perhaps. In the play, Caesar ignores the soothsayer’s advice and his glorious career came to an end in the Roman Senate – Et tu Brute!

So, with the Ides of March upon us, are you listening to the warnings from your supply chain? Is it well-tuned enough to even give you warnings? Or are you operating day-to-day hoping that everything holds together and you will not have your Ides of March moment?

While you may not have a soothsayer whispering in your ear, you might want to consider a few scenarios all too common across the fresh food industry:

Supply and demand can get out of sync

Aligning market demand with the plans and expectations of your growers / producers requires constant monitoring and attention. Outdated systems or poor visibility across the supply chain can cause ripples in this alignment, creating challenges when it comes time to fulfill contracts without sufficient supply, or leaving you with extra product you have to sell on the open market (or can’t sell at all).

Consumers are buying in different ways

At the end of the day it’s all about the consumers, right? And consumers today are buying in new ways. There is growing preference for online purchasing as well as more pre-packaged and ‘meals in a box’ style choices. If you’re not paying attention you might be producing products that are in decline.

Food-borne illness can strike quickly

Responsiveness and transparency are the hallmarks of companies that weather the disruptions of major food-borne illness scenarios. If your operations are a step behind the information, or if processes and communications are inflexible in the face of sudden change you can be caught off-guard with devastating consequences.

The Ides of March are upon us, and there is no time like the present to heed the warnings coming from your supply chain. And don’t get me started on St. Patrick’s Day…!