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ASCM Insights

Top Supply Chains Deliver this Holiday Season

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Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, so I’ll take this opportunity to express a bit of gratitude. It’s been a very difficult year for many people, as war, food insecurity and natural disasters have devastated communities across the globe. On the bright side, though, the pandemic is officially over and inflation has eased. I count myself among the lucky ones, and for that I am deeply grateful.

But now it’s time to talk turkey: Prices for the big birds are 9% lower than this time last year and are expected to keep dropping, according to a Wells Fargo Agricultural study. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends, at least as it pertains to holiday grocery receipts. Ham is nearing a record high, and canned cranberries and pumpkin are up 60% and 30%, respectively, mainly due to packaging and labor costs. Russet potatoes are also reaching the peaks of affordability, due to drought conditions in the Pacific Northwest.

Stores are trying to help shoppers with some interesting holiday deals: Aldi, Target and Walmart are lowering prices of classic Thanksgiving sides, hoping to attract people who don’t want to forgo the best part of the meal. Some grocers are even offering a pre-assembled “Thanksgiving in a box” with Turkey and a variety of shelf-stable sides. Not included: the wine and beer; both beverages are up in price this season.

But what’s Thanksgiving without dessert? Cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla are still on the menu, as spice and condiment manufacturer McCormick & Co. expands its headquarters to a 1.8-million-square-foot logistics center, reports Food Dive. The new building handles 40% of McCormick’s U.S. distribution and can get products to four in 10 Americans within a day, taking the company one step closer to reaching its goal of a “supply chain of the future.” The changes are extensive and not just because the space is large. The shelves are taller and the aisles narrower, which packs more product into every inch, reduces packing time and energy, and cuts the environmental footprint.

Walmart and Amazon have also launched new strategies to drive growth and fulfill orders faster, Supply Chain Dive reports. Amazon is increasing its number of fulfillment centers and “optimizing inventory stock levels in the company’s regional network using placement algorithms, which is helping drive cost cuts.” Similarly, Walmart is opening a new next-generation fulfillment center that features more stock of popular items that are “distinct from the sales floors of the stores with a focus instead on assortment needs specifically for pickup and delivery order fulfillment,” as well as automated technology to speed deliveries.

A recipe for logistics success

Food prices and delivery accuracy are salient issues for consumers, so striking the right balance between streamlining logistics and right-sizing inventory is a key task for supply chain professionals. That’s why ASCM offers the Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) designation, elucidating supply chain dynamics through a clear understanding of essential functional efficiencies. Explore inventory and warehouse management, sustainability and reverse logistics, capacity planning and demand management, global logistics and transportation, and much more. Sign up today to help supply chains deliver a bountiful Thanksgiving for all!

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 through ascm.org.