Handling 200 million birds: How Ingham’s new high-tech planning software helped put Christmas turkeys on tables

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

With the help of software provider FuturMaster, Ingham was able to make more accurate forecast and beef up its Christmas turkey production. ©Pixabay
With the help of software provider FuturMaster, Ingham was able to make more accurate forecast and beef up its Christmas turkey production. ©Pixabay

Related tags: Turkey, Technology, cloud-based software

Poultry producer Ingham’s implemented the use new state-of-the-art demand planning software to manage its large volume of demand and orders across the festive season in Australia and New Zealand.

FuturMaster is a software solutions provider which, in this case, provided Ingham’s with demand planning software that allowed the company to ‘more accurately forecast how many chickens and turkeys supermarkets are likely to require over busy seasonal trading periods’​.

“Sales of turkeys increase substantially over Christmas and demand for convenient, ready-to-serve barbecue chicken tends to increase during warmer weather,”​ said Ingham’s in its official press release.

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

Ingham’s is the largest poultry producer in New Zealand and Australia with some 345 facilities and farms, and processes some 200 million birds every year. It supplies to brands such as McDonald’s and Woolworths.

“[Given this large volume], the company relies on carefully planning calculations to make sure its various products arrive fresh onto supermarket shelves in the correct quantities, as and when required,”​ said Ingham’s.

The company appears satisfied with the results that the cloud-based software has produced thus far. Ingham’s demand planning manager Chee Foong said: “We now have a sophisticated tool-set in place for matching demand plans with production.”

“With the help of FuturMaster, we expect an uplift in service levels and increased forecast accuracy.”

Foong added that it is necessary to make sure things are done right ‘the first time’​, and that inventory management must be carefully handled to avoid stock loss or wastages.

“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.”

Phase one of the software went live earlier in April this year, and Ingham’s added that it intends to add more advanced promotion planning capabilities in the future.

Bo Zhou, CEO and President of FuturMaster said: “We trust [our software] will give [Ingham’s] the reliability and flexibility that outsourcing important IT areas of the business can bring. Our Cloud Services offer is on the rise among our clients, allowing them to minimise any up-front IT and infrastructure costs.”

Ingham’s in the news

Ingham’s made headlines earlier this year when it listed approximately US$1.1bn (A$1.5bn) worth of shares on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), in what Reuters ​described as possibly the largest initial public offering of 2018 in the country.

This was estimated as between 50% and 70% of the company (priced at between A$3.57 to A$4.14 per share) in addition of up to 45.2 million new shares.

In December, Ingham’s also announced that it would be building a A$46mn hatchery in Victoria, Australia to replace an existing structure as well as support productivity and predicted demand expansion.

According to Finance News Network, ​the hatchery is expected to reach completion by 2020.

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