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How to Calculate Catch Weight: 2023 Update

As food costs continue to rise, It’s more important than ever for food manufacturers and distributors to calculate their sales, costs, and traceability efforts to ensure product quality and operational strategy are as competitive as possible. 

What is Catch weight?

Catch weight is a term used in inventory management and sales, particularly in the food industry, to refer to a product that is sold by weight but may vary in weight from package to package, i.e. variable weight items. This can be due to several factors such as natural variation in the size or weight of the product, processing or handling methods, or storage conditions. Catch weight products are typically sold at a price per unit of weight, but the actual weight of each unit may differ from the others.

For example, fish is often sold by catch weight because the weight of each fish may vary due to factors such as species, age, and location. In the retail industry, catch weight products are typically weighed and priced at the point of sale to ensure accurate pricing and inventory tracking.

Examples of products that are sold by catch weight:

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  1. Seafood: Fish, shrimp, lobster, and other seafood products are often sold by catch weight because the weight of each individual item can vary based on factors like species, size, and location.

  2. Meat: Some cuts of meat, such as steaks, chops, and roasts, are sold by catch weight because the weight of each piece can vary depending on the animal it came from, the age of the animal, and other factors.

  3. Fresh produce: Certain types of fruits and vegetables, such as melons, pumpkins, and watermelons, are sold by variable weight unit (Catch weight) because their size can vary greatly from one unit to the next.

  4. Cheese: Some types of cheese are sold by catch weight because they are sold in blocks or wedges that can vary in size.

  5. Nuts: Some nuts, such as peanuts and cashews, are sold by catch weight because their size can vary depending on the variety and quality.

  6. Poultry: Whole chickens or turkeys are often sold by catch weight because the weight of each bird can vary based on factors such as breed, age, and diet.

Catch weight calculation tools help to minimize human error, allow for accurate invoicing, and increase profit margins. While the concept of catch weight is nothing new, plenty of food distributors still use manual processes to calculate catch weight – which can result in inefficient processes and a higher risk of error. 

Manual catch weight management and calculation processes are outdated and can lead to more problems than they solve – which is why choosing a state-of-the-art ERP solution like Inecta is crucial for growing your business and learning how to calculate catch weight. 

Below, we're exploring everything you need to know about calculating catch weight effectively for your business. 

What is the meaning of catch weight management for food businesses?

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Catch weight management refers to the actual weight of a product at the time of sale. This term is commonly used in industries where products are high-value and can vary in size and weight, such as steaks and seafood. Manufacturers who sell their products by weight, rather than by a fixed price per package or case, often use catch weight.

For instance, when you buy fresh chicken at a deli counter, the meat is weighed and then sold at a precise price. The deli uses catch weight management functionality to monitor and price its products. Similarly, in a manufacturing setting, each package of a product is weighed and labeled with its exact weight, and the customer pays for the exact amount purchased. This type of packaging is sometimes referred to as a "random weight case.(sometimes referred to as average weight case)"

For example, the frozen "two-pound" bag of meatballs you purchase at the grocery store probably doesn't weigh exactly two pounds. The manufacturer of those meatballs does not use catch weight unit, but instead, an approximate two pounds of meatballs are packaged in each bag and sent to the grocer. This type of packaging is called a "fixed weight case," where each bag is labeled as containing two pounds of meatballs.

Addressing the Challenges of Catch Weight in Food Manufacturing

To handle the challenges of catch weight in food manufacturing, there are different methods that companies can use. One method is to hire a person who records the weight of each package manually using pen and paper as the product comes off the line. However, this method is prone to error, and the data collected may need to be manually entered into an Excel spreadsheet, which can be time-consuming.

Alternatively, food manufacturers can use automated software systems to record the weight of each unit as it comes off the line and gets labeled. This approach eliminates human error and can significantly speed up the process. Additionally, real-time inventory and sales tracking become possible with such systems. One example of an automated inventory system that handles catch weight is inecta Food ERP. This system is user-friendly and provides various features, such as catch weight processing, multiple units of measure, real-time yield management, and tracing, all integrated into one solution.

How to calculate catch weight

Catch weight is calculated easily in supermarkets and grocery stores. It more easily quantifies the total amount of value you get per dollar and is especially useful for items that would otherwise depreciate with shelf time.

Without catch weight, customers would either be getting slightly more or less for a pound of a more loosely quantified item (such as ham), which can hurt the profit margins of the grocer, manufacturer, and distributor. Customers may also feel cheated when they believed that they were purchasing more than what they believe was given – leading to further complications. 

At a food manufacturing plant, calculating catch weight may be a manual or automated process, and is done by the food worker on the assembly line. For food items with a variable weight, such as fresh produce, meats, poultry, and seafood, the worker weighs the food on a scale and records the value on paper. They'll then input the values recorded on paper into an singular computer system.

Without any system to verify that the worker’s calculations are correct, your food business could lose a substantial amount of money each time the catch weight is off. Additionally, food workers are often overwhelmed with work, and the possibility of human error enters the equation.

Knowing how to calculate catch weight is useful for high-value products. You'll most often encounter catch weight when dealing with seafood, cheese, meat, and poultry since these are often high-value products for which producers need accurate measurements.

Managing catch weight in an ERP system

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Managing and learning how to calculate catch weight is more difficult for manufacturers with variable-weight products since the pricing uses a different unit of measurements than an inventory unit like cases. Since there’s no direct unit conversion between cases and pounds between items, a comprehensive ERP system can help to eliminate the risk of error and promote accuracy and transparency within the organization and customer purchase experience. 

Why use Inecta for catch weight?


Fortunately, catch weight is built into ERP systems like Inecta, which simplifies manual catch weight processes that are inefficient and outdated. The Inecta ERP system is easy to set up and is designed to intuitively support your business in all areas of operation – housed and managed out of a sleek, centralized framework that supports transparency, function, and efficiency. 

Visit our website to schedule your free demo and find out why the top food and beverage manufacturers trust Inecta with their catch weight and ERP needs.

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