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Watch: National Academy of Sciences—”Supply Chains and COVID19″

Posted by tia.taylor | May 4, 2020
There is a lot of good stuff on this webinar if you can find an hour to listen. As we’ve seen, the pandemic is accelerating systems transformation. On the call they said that the number one transformation they expect is lasting dependence/use of eCommerce. In New Jersey, where eCommerce was already big, they saw a 200% jump in direct delivery in March. This is somewhat problematic given what I heard from our coop store colleagues. Direct delivery is loosing them money. Big stores may be able to underwrite delivery with profits in other sectors of the business. But our local businesses don’t have this luxury. Along this same line, Anne Wieder noted early in the call that after other disruptive events, there is a 60% reduction in local, small businesses. Grim. On a happier note, they see a transformation of the structure of transportation services as warehousing goes regional, and companies try to avoid a “single source point of failure”. It isn’t clear if we need to continue to build separate regional supply chains (as we’ve done with retail) or if working within existing chains (more common in food to institution) is better. Maybe both/and.
Perhaps a useful nugget to share is the role of supply chain managers. Which of these things are we doing? What are we missing? How do we work together to do all of them on behalf of regional / local food? Supply mangers:
  • accelerate decisions
  • map supply geography and social networks
  • improve communications and information flow, transparency
  • identify options for supply, transportation and markets
  • monitor government programs and regulations
  • assess the change in costs, the rate of change (volatility), and where the change is occurring
  • nurture collaboration
  • look for opportunities to improve / upgrade the system by re-configuring it, accelerating change, implementing tech

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