Opening New Ways to Feed the World’s Diversifying Palate with SAP Technology

Feeding a world population that is expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050 is no small feat. Consumer appetites are demanding bolder, more exotic flavors and new food options focused on health and wellness.

Growing concerns over food safety and sustainable sourcing call for better transparency for businesses and consumers. Meanwhile, tariff and global trade tensions are driving uncertainty in the form of excess inventory, labor shortages, and high operational costs.

The entire food and beverage industry takes these challenges seriously. But Doehler is going even further. It is infusing innovation into its DNA with company-wide intelligence – all fueled by large-volume processing, full-scale visibility, expanded automation, and increased efficiency with SAP S/4HANA at the core of its IT system.

Spicing Up Food-Ingredient Innovation with Next-Generation ERP

Since its start as a local, Germany-based spice mill in 1838,  Doehler has steadily evolved as consumer needs change, new product opportunities emerge, and global markets open. And doing so has allowed it to become a global producer, marketer, and provider of natural ingredients, technology-driven ingredient systems, and integrated solutions for the food and beverage industry worldwide.

One of the pioneering and ground-breaking transformations in its history was the 1995 implementation of SAP ERP. For the first time, the business gradually eliminated information silos and streamlined processes across procurement, manufacturing, service, sales, finance, and HR in all offices and plants worldwide. But after over 20 years of use, it became a highly specialized system with more than 33,000 custom objects.

Unfortunately, such a high degree of specialization can restrict a growing company. The more customized the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system became, the faster the gaps between old and new requirements widened. For an operation that uses more than 5,000 different raw materials and depends on the talents of 7,000 employees distributed across 45 production sites and 48 offices worldwide, the legacy system couldn’t keep up. The business was no longer able to respond to consumer demand with the level of precision, scale, and speed necessary to stay competitive.

Doehler’s IT leadership team knew that the business needed to bring data-driven intelligence to every area. This strategic focus led to the decision to capture data with SAP S/4HANA, a next-generation ERP suite, and other innovative solutions.

Blending Intelligent Capabilities to Take Operations to the Next Level

Within six months, Doehler completed the initial conversion to SAP S/4HANA. Then, it undertook two series of upgrades, the first completed in five months and the second in three months, without operational disruption. Thus, the business gained a highly integrated and connected intelligent core that is being used across all processes and functions involved in sales and distribution, materials management, production, and quality management.

With the assistance of its key technology partner,  Doehler can give its employees a better view of business operations, as well as a real-time platform for proactive and actionable decision-making. Together, the business is delivering a vision that includes the use of innovative solutions and embedded intelligence integrated with SAP S/4HANA to address areas such as cashflow management and transportation logistics.

Also, it has gained holistic visibility into its partners and optimized assets. For example,  Doehler incorporated intelligent data models to support operations, which include 16 plants and more than 3,500 users. These models are enabled by capabilities such as predictive analytics and machine learning, which are integrated with SAP S/4HANA.

SAP S/4HANA supports these tactics by enabling four fundamental capabilities:

1. An aggregated view of consumers

By integrating the SAP Customer Experience portfolio with SAP S/4HANA, operations can aggregate profiling data into a single “golden record,” which significantly improves data quality. Essentially, the integration allows for more effective customer segmentation to target marketing campaigns, resulting in more effective campaigns overall. Plus, marketing and sales teams can tap into an internal, consumer-like view of product performance and customer feedback by market segments and access a 360-degree view of customers, available any time and through any mobile device.

2. Fast analysis and simulation of complex sales decisions

Doehler also integrated the SAP Data Maintenance application for ERP by Vistex for structural pricing. Doing so allows the business to manage all process steps, from contract initiation to pricing and pricing analysis. The application provides pricing management, action management, as well as pricing and reporting functionality – all working in tandem with SAP Sales Cloud throughout the quotation process.

3. Full supply chain traceability from the farm to the consumer’s table

The company can prove that a product is kosher or halal with evidence that the machine used to make it is clean and compliant. Plus,  Doehler plans to work more collaboratively with suppliers, manufacturing locations, and retailers with SAP Ariba.

4. Automated cash management to build a more strategic finance organization

Integrating SAP Cash Application with SAP S/4HANA has automated specific functions for  Doehler’s finance team that, at present, supports seven of its companies. Up and running in four weeks, the application’s machine learning capabilities, for example, allow accounts receivable specialists to step away from repetitive activities and discussions to focus more on strategic responsibilities. The data model is retrained every three months to calibrate the algorithm with new business rules that reflect the changing needs of the function.

Combining Inspiration, Perseverance, and a Unique Core of Intelligent Technologies

With SAP S/4HANA, Doehler is well on its way to achieving its vision of becoming a digital leader in the food and beverage industry. The percentage of invoices processed automatically has increased by 20 percent to date, and its ability to pivot operations to address continuously shifting consumer demand is more efficient than ever before.

More importantly, Doehler is expanding revenue sources as it develops new capabilities that can become service offerings, such as inventory management for customers. The inclusion of identity management technology and a cloud-based enterprise portal enabled by SAP S/4HANA will help ensure that the entire business network accesses the data necessary to help people make the best decisions quickly and take action at the right moment.

But no matter how it evolves, Doehler’s future depends on the implementation of intelligent technologies, which pull together the information it needs to better understand the market it serves. It is through this level of intelligence that the business can proactively take on opportunities that bring new revenue streams and allow it to serve its customers better today and for years to come.


Learn more about Doehler and how it is infusing innovation into the food and beverages industry with SAP technology.


Harald Muley is head of Corporate Functions IT at Doehler.