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ASCM Insights

Girl Scout Cookie Crumbles Under Supply Chain Pressure

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Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) has a strong tradition of teaching young women about key life skills, such as leadership, self-esteem and integrity. This Girl Scout Cookie season, scouts are also discovering some important supply chain lessons.

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led entrepreneurship program in the world. Girl Scouts leverage a variety of their own retail channels — including ordering directly from a Girl Scout, booths outside brick-and-mortar stores, and online and mobile tools — to sell boxes of their exclusive cookies and raise funds for troops. The cookies are only available for about six weeks each year.

GSUSA has contracts with two licensed bakers, ABC Bakers of Brownsburg, Ind., and Little Brownie Bakers, of Louisville, Ky. Unfortunately, COVID-19-related labor issues at Little Brownie Bakers have caused a nationwide shortage of a brand-new cookie, Adventurefuls. In light of the disruption, more production shifted to ABC Bakers. But the pivot wasn’t quick enough to stock Adventurefuls for booth sales this season.

For example, the Nation’s Capital council, which represents 25 counties in Virginia; Maryland; West Virginia; and Washington, D.C., has opted out of selling the cookie because orders wouldn’t arrive in time for booth sales. “Volunteers are already stretched thin,” Council CEO Lidia Soto-Harmon told The Washington Post. “We just don’t have the bandwidth to come back to pick up one cookie.”

GSUSA reports that no other cookie varieties are being affected this year. (Phew.)

Notably, this year’s supply chain challenge is in stark contrast to last year’s problem, when 15 million boxes went unsold because troops focused on minimal- and no-contact sales for safety. But as any good leader will tell you, the point of the Girl Scout Cookie Program isn’t the bottom line, but empowering girls with key business skills. Scouts learn about planning and inventory management; money management; order fulfillment; transportation and distribution; and, of course, sales and marketing.

A merit badge for supply chain

As you may know, Girl Scout uniforms — whether a tunic, vest or sash — are used to display each scout’s accomplishments through badges, pins and other insignia. And it turns out there’s now a “Girl Scouts Cookies and the Supply Chain patch, created in partnership with Ryder System Inc. This is a truly wonderful way to engage the next generation of supply chain professionals and female leaders, who will be a critical resource for filling today’s talent gap.

Furthermore, women currently in supply chain are enjoying rewarding careers in a field that values them. According to the ASCM 2021 Supply Chain Salary and Career Report, women under age 40 report a median salary of $81,000 annually — $2,000 more than their male counterparts. In addition, nearly 90% of survey respondents have a positive outlook on their careers and would recommend supply chain as a satisfying professional path for others.

And speaking of satisfying, the Girl Scout Cookie Finder helps you locate troops and cookie sales near you. Bring on those Trefoils.

 

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted at abe@ascm.org.

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