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Showing posts with label Supply Chain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supply Chain. Show all posts

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Will we see you in Singapore?


Friday, July 8, 2022

Food Sources Under Siege: What We Knew is No Longer True

Everything which used to be reliable and stable in seafood has changed… so what's next?

Professor Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University wrote an engaging book some decades ago titled How We Know What Isn’t SoIt’s about our human propensity to form beliefs which were never true.

That’s a bit different from what’s happening in the seafood industry right now, where quite a bit used to be true, but isn’t so any longer. Nearly everything traditionally reliable about the seafood supply chain has now changed.

These aren’t misperceptions. Truths we used to rely on have been thrown overboard.

Case in point:

What Used To Be So…

…What We Now Know

Our labor force would turn over, but was generally stable and returned year after year

We face constant worker shortages in plants and in ports

China’s processing industry was an insatiable source of raw material demand

China’s Zero-COVID policies idle processing facilities, killing demand

Fuel and transportation costs would fluctuate but over the long term were fairly predictable and inflation was a non-issue

Fuel costs are almost 50% higher than a year ago, influencing transportation and other costs of doing business

Growing openness between nations increased economic interdependency

War drove international sanctions, closing the Russian market to outside seafood

Is there a war on the global seafood supply chain? Probably not. Does it feel like there’s a war on the global seafood supply chain? From inside the industry, facing this volatility and the invalidation of our prior means of operating, it can absolutely seem that way.

Seafood companies need to rethink processing. We need to seek new markets to replace the old ones which are now closed. We need new trading partners who are open for business. We care about the location of trading partners more than ever before because of port and transportation cost issues.

Essentially, seafood companies need a new way to do business. And given that change seems to be the one thing which is consistent, the new way of doing business needs to enable our businesses to become more nimble than they are today – the best thing we can do is prepare our businesses to withstand future volatility.

Are you ready?

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Seas, dinner plates, and everything in between: the certifiably complex state of traceability

Consumers want to buy seafood sourced through sustainable fishing practices. At least, they say they do when asked. As industry practitioners, we certainly want that, too. To position against sustainable fishing practices is like arguing with motherhood, baseball and apple pie.

There are many different and overlapping initiatives underway right now – all inspiring. The seafood industry is making great strides in sustainability and traceability, but it’s clear there is a lot more work to be done.

The current state of play is certification, where participants adopt practices to ensure sustainability according to documented standards and undergo audits and examinations in order to earn the right to advertise their product as processed per the standard. This is all well and good, and is a practice followed in other business domains too. It makes sense.

But, the certification game falls short of our industry’s aspirations, for two reasons –

1. We’re too good at it.

Certification is done with respect to a standard. In the seafood industry, there is no shortage of standards. And that’s the problem. In the words of a longtime friend, “I love standards, especially because there are so many of them." SeafoodSource offers an excellent guide to certifications and eco-labels. The fact that this guidebook – aimed at seafood industry insiders – fills 322 pages is indicative of the issue. We’re so good at creating new standards that we’ve built a maze we can barely sort out ourselves, much less expect the consumer to understand.

2. The wrong fish still slip through

Certification is certainly a logical step – no issue there. But, certification often relies on attestations and audits. That leaves gaps, which data, systems and enforcement aren’t currently equipped to address. That’s not the same thing as a fully transparent supply chain from sea to plate, which is the real aspiration. Our industry is in need of an audit trail which spans all stages of production and processing, for each final product produced.

There’s no silver bullet – moving the needle on traceability requires problem-solving, development and evangelism across a wide range of stakeholders. We’re all going to need to pitch in, and to study paradigms which have been successfully adopted in other verticals.

How do you feel about your firm’s role in achieving sea-to-plate traceability?

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Our supply chain forgot we’re supposed to be recovering from a pandemic

Quiz time: What do these three real-life scenarios from 2021 have in common?

1. This is a great time to be in the seafood industry. Seafood consumption is strong, powered by the continuation of the prepare-at-home trend triggered by the pandemic, and by post-pandemic resumption of restaurant and food-and-beverage business. And, depending on the sector, retail prices have soared, in some cases 50% - 60% within the calendar year and 140% year over year.

2. This is a terrible time to be in the seafood industry. If you produce, process or ship seafood, you’re struggling with labor shortages which make it challenging to deliver on your own commitments. And with ships sitting awaiting access to bottlenecked ports and continued challenges with closed borders, you’re concerned about the ability of your traditional suppliers to deliver on their commitments to you.

3. Completely unrelated to the pandemic, US Customs and Border Protection decided to take action to restrict a decade-old process used to ship whitefish from Alaska to the US east coast (if you’re not familiar with this one, it’s an entertaining look at how the lure of opportunity drives ingenuity… an excellent and informative podcast from Intrafish is here, which will enable you to see the humor and audacity in this video.)


All of these scenarios place pressure on seafood companies to expand their global network of relationships. Our supply chain is still broken. It’s exhibiting the symptoms of a COVID long-hauler, where it’s far from recovered, and it is not clear how or when recovery will take place. There’s a distinct need to increase supply to meet demand, to increase the number of supplier sources in order to buffer the risk of supplier unpredictability, and to build in flexibility to shift from one source to another as the regulatory and geopolitical environment introduce constraints.

There is cause for optimism - while Delta variant flare-ups are still occurring, and the true impact of Omicron is, as of this writing, yet to be understood, in large part we’re on a path to recovery from the pandemic. Many of us in the US just had a real Thanksgiving gathering with family, something not possible a year ago. Companies are starting to return to the office. We’re eating in restaurants more now.

Competitiveness – and survival – requires conscious action to build new relationships, and platforms to effectively manage them and pursue new business opportunities. Companies who do so rapidly will capitalize on the market-driven demand opportunity, and will increase the flexibility and agility of their sourcing relationships to buffer supplier and labor uncertainties. Companies unable to do so will face idled facilities, margin pressure, and declining revenue. It’s that simple.

Are you able to ride the wave of change? How are you expanding your network of supplier/buyer relationships?