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ASCM Insights

No Tricks, Just Supply Chain Treats


Here in the United States, many people will spend this Halloween weekend carving spooky pumpkins, putting on creepy costumes for trick-or-treating, negotiating their way out of sinister corn mazes and shuddering through horror movies. So, I don’t want to scare you any further with tales of supply chain frights. Instead, this edition of SCM Now Impact will focus on hope and promise for the future.

For starters, the National Retail Federation expects that consumers will spend a record-breaking $10.14 billion this Halloween season. Unsurprisingly, that’s about $2 billion more than 2020, when many communities discouraged celebrations. But this number even outshines the spending levels of the last six years. It seems that, after a quiet Halloween last year, people are ready to celebrate — spending $3.3 billion on costumes, $3.2 billion on decorations and $3 billion on candy.

The increased spending levels have been a boon for candy makers, whose margins are being squeezed by rising commodity costs. The Hershey Co., which performs about 70% of its manufacturing in the United States, was well-poised for on-time delivery of America’s most popular Halloween candy, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. As a result, the company is expected to increase its annual forecast, despite the supply chain challenges of 2021.

But the bottom line is just one aspect of supply chain; improving people’s lives is the most powerful and worthwhile objective that any of us in the industry can strive for. It’s difficult to talk about Halloween candy without reflecting on the ongoing epidemic of child labor in cocoa farming. In June 2019, I wrote about this crisis, noting that Hershey could only trace half of its global cocoa supply back to the farm; Mars only 24%.

Today, Mars Wrigley U.S. is using IBM blockchain solutions to support its corporate social responsibility initiatives. The candy maker now reports being 95% transparent with its cocoa suppliers and is nearing its goal of sourcing 100% responsible cocoa. Likewise, The Hershey Co. has dedicated itself to advancing ethical business practices within its networks by expanding the traceability of its products, also via IBM blockchain tools. (Check out this fascinating source map of the ingredients in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.)

Child labor is an issue that demands our attention, commitment and all available supply chain resources. The work being done by these organizations is meaningful, but it’s just one small piece of addressing a highly complex, systemic problem. Blockchain is a promising tool, and the critical lessons and experiences of companies such as Mars and Hershey must be shared and applied throughout our global networks.

Knowledge-sharing at its best

In the spirit of collaborative learning, ASCM was honored this past week to unveil this year’s winners of the ASCM Awards of Excellence. This program recognizes superior performance and dedication to advancing the field of supply chain management by both corporations and individuals. Congratulations to this year’s honorees:

  • Corporate Transformation: Univar Solutions
  • Learning and Development: Eaton
  • Making an Impact: Microsoft
  • Supply Chain Leader: Shaunna Rudolph, supply chain director, GDIT
  • Diversity and Inclusion Champion: Angela L. Ward, manager of global supply chain, Northrop Grumman
  • Emerging Supply Chain Leader: Haris Ikram, CLTD, logistics, distribution and transportation manager, PepsiCo Pakistan

View the virtual award ceremony on our YouTube channel, and keep an eye out for inspiring stories about the winners on the blog. There’s lots to discover from these groundbreaking corporations and supply chain professionals.

The call for entries for the 2022 ASCM Awards of Excellence will open in the spring. Get a head start by reviewing the criteria and planning your nominations today.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer at ASCM, the largest nonprofit association for supply chain and the global leader in supply chain organizational transformation and innovation. Prior to this, he was the managing director for the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. His leadership roles have included project management, business process redesign, and individual and organizational alignment. Eshkenazi may be contacted through

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