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Dead Pigs & Horsemeat: A Supply Chain Wake-Up Call

On the day 3,000 dead bloated pigs were found bobbing in Shanghai's water source, a UK report on the country's horsemeat scandal lambastes supply-chain management practices.

The international trade body Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply said supermarkets have “fallen woefully short” in the management of their supply chains, according to the Daily Mail.

The CIPS survey found:

  • 36 percent claim their chief executive is not engaged about the potential risks in the supply chain
  • Just 53 percent of companies have a strategy to mitigate risk in their supply chains
  • 86 percent of supply-chain managers do not believe that regulators understand supply chains.

An unrelated but just as relevant report from PwC sheds some additional light on supply-chain attitudes. That report found:

  • Companies that beat the competition on supply-chain performance also achieve significantly better financial results
  • Only 45 percent of respondents say their companies view the supply chain as a strategic asset
  • Just 9 percent say the supply chain is helping them outperform their peers.

Blind spot What do these numbers tell us? They tell us there's a nagging and hugely unfortunate perception problem regarding the supply chain's role in business success. You know it because you live it every day, but your boss's boss probably doesn't, and more importantly, your company's owners are blind to it.

CIPS says companies will continue to be “found out” unless investors, analysts, and boardrooms “place appropriate emphasis on the importance of their supply chain to their business and take steps to ensure they are fit for purpose.”

That's a kind-of rallying-cry poster in the making. All you need to do is lay those words over pictures of dead pigs floating in the Huangpu River or horsemeat ground into where it shouldn't be.

That would take the abstract and put it into perspective (see They Eat Horsemeat, Don’t They?). Give a year and maybe those survey numbers start to shift.

5 comments on “Dead Pigs & Horsemeat: A Supply Chain Wake-Up Call

  1. Daniel
    March 12, 2013

    Brain, thanks for the timely article. Now a day's in EU, especially in England, horse and pig meat issues are sparking. Is it a supply chain issue or the issue linked to counterfeit (mixing such meats with Beaf?).

  2. _hm
    March 12, 2013

    Supply chain and its quality is also dependent on price and profit margins. As this margin is going low significantly, quality also suffers. If all parties involved has fair share of margin, they will provide better quality service and goods.

  3. Ariella
    March 12, 2013

    Weather.com posted a video and article on the pigs. It warns of the graphic images of all those dead pigs in the water. It is mind-boggling that someone would just dump that many in and risk contaminating the drinking water for all those around there.

  4. Eldredge
    March 13, 2013

    Supply chain management is a consumer advocacy issue, which is illustrated well by the horsemeat found in marketed meat products.

  5. Eldredge
    March 13, 2013

    86 percent of supply-chain managers do not believe that regulators understand supply chains.

    Interesting comment from the survey. This could be just negative perception on the part of those surveyed, but also wouldn't be surprised if it is true to a large extent.

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