Like many of you, we see hope on the horizon with vaccines, schools moving back to in-person learning, restaurants beginning to see a path to success, and all the other “return to normal” practices! We can all envision getting back to the “blueprint” for 2021 – or should we?
If the vaccine distribution challenges have shown us anything, it’s to NEVER take for granted the complexity of the end-to-end supply chain and the simple math that is the foundation for any goods or service moving from order to delivery!
Even with the world-class military influence, we are seeing the “delivery to stores” and local execution struggle with the uncertainty of supply and the variability of distribution and execution surging. In many cases, it’s a classic bottleneck and constraint analysis!
I’m not quite sure what the end state will be with any supply chain in the food sector, but confident it’ll different and it’ll be a while before anyone goes back to a normal routine. I would expect that home delivery continues to thrive and find new inroads into markets that will remain vibrant and strong.
What won’t change – the fundamentals of supply chain planning and execution. Certainly with “last mile” and “home delivery” and other e-commerce evolution, those parts of the supply chain must evolve and continue to change rapidly.
Having participated in several roundtables and food industry forums, it’s clear that retailers have gained tremendous insights and knowledge about customer buying behavior and product performance. They understand that a mission-critical and well-developed distribution network that is flexible and reactive will lead to future success.
Moving forward, consumers will demand the same level of service but at reduced costs – like any other business process – it will revert to a least-cost solution without loss of exceptional service.
While I still have concerns about next steps for the supply chain – we have a lot of work ahead of us, the path forward is still undefined and will continue to challenge us to be far more innovative and collaborative within and across our industry sectors. We will need to rely on partners, have vested relationships that are grounded in cooperative supply chain solutions, and Big Data will stay at the forefront of the technology solution.
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Read part 1 of the series: The New Supply Chain: Pandemic
Read part 2 of the series: The New Supply Chain: Rebalance
Read part 3 of the series: The New Supply Chain: Reinvent
Read part 4 of the series: The New Supply Chain: Make a Difference
Read part 5 of the series: The New Supply Chain: Status Quo
Read part 6 of the series: The New Supply Chain: Spring Training
Read part 7 of the series: The New Supply Chain: Back in the Game
About the author
Mike has spent over 30 years in the food and food packaging space working as an engineer, operations and multi-plant manager along with supply chain and logistics roles. He has worked with CPG companies - Walmart, Target, and Costco along with food service, grocery processor and distribution accounts. He also has extensive order to cash business systems implementation experience with SAP/JDA. He is now the VP of Supply Chain for Greenleaf Food.