Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Ponder This

If there’s one point we were happy to see reiterated at our Supply Chain Outlook event over a week ago, it was the bigger role supply chain plays in improving lives, a role that goes beyond delivering goods to the customer.


During his keynote address, Fortunato dela Peña, secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, drilled home the impact of an effect supply chain beyond the obvious stakeholders. He was talking about the role innovation plays in ensuring food security – how encouraging new practices and technologies across the value chain ensures that there is food on everyone’s table – but he also touched on how doing this also promotes a more inclusive society and a more competitive economy. It also ensures that these benefits don’t just impact on current generations but also future ones, particularly as the focus shifts to sustainability.


It’s not just about farmers having access to tools that will improve yield, or products being kept in the best condition as it travels to retailers. It is also about empowering otherwise marginalized sectors, allowing them to realize the opportunities offered to them by natural resources as well as emerging technologies. It is about allowing a more equal playing field, where big companies and small players can best compete (and collaborate). It is about ensuring that children grow up in the best of health, allowing them to be productive members of society when they grow up.


A concrete example was later presented by Cold Chain Association of the Philippines president Anthony Dizon. He talked about a recent project the organization wrapped up in the CARAGA region, engaging stakeholders there about how a robust cold chain network can benefit them. Considering the Philippines is an archipelago that is reliant on transport to bring produce from a few agricultural regions, it is a surprise how, until recently, the development of these cold chain networks was led almost entirely by the private sector. The government must step up its efforts to ensure these needs are met across the nation, not just to ensure high food quality wherever you may be, but also to provide breathing room when calamities strike and access to food is affected.


Ponder this: this week the wholesale price of eggplants, according to merchants in Divisoria as reported by GMA News, have gone down to as little as P10 per kilo. Vendors would sell these to consumers at P25 to P30 a kilo. If transport costs were lower, and if transport time was faster, one can imagine these prices would be lower. Or, if a strong cold chain network – warehouses, refrigerated trucks, and robust quality monitoring – is in place, one can imagine the P30 price would bring eggplants in even better quality than what is available now.


It can only be a good thing for everyone. Farmers may see higher profits if the quality of their products is assured, and they may even be able to sell at bigger supermarkets, a domain usually reserved for large-scale farmers. Consumers will have access to better quality products, which leads to tastier dishes (again, the power of supply chain on the psyche) and healthier bodies. For us in the logistics sector, it can also mean higher profits: more trips, less hold-ups.


Also ponder this: in the United Kingdom, customers are shifting away from supermarket shopping, a result of people not having the time to cook at home. While this meant the rise of having food delivered from restaurants – which has led to the rise of services like Uber Eats and Deliveroo – this has also opened a market for ready-made meals: an alternative for those who, say, don’t want fast food or something too fancy, or those who want to know what’s in the meals they eat. I’m certain we’ll see this trend in the Philippines, too: we already have the delivery services, and we also have consumers who are becoming more exacting about the food they eat. (Just check your social media feeds; chances are someone you know subscribes to a “diet service” for, say, those doing keto.) Imagine our farmers having the ability to be part of this movement, with local produce forming part of those ready meals. It’s a win for everyone, and with smaller farmers possibly able to muscle into the domain of large-scale farms, it could be a win for sustainable agriculture, too.


Ponder the possibilities offered by a robust and responsive supply chain network across the nation. Anyone can join in and reap the rewards, provided they do their homework. This is the impact we at supply chain tend to miss as we focus on service levels and deliverables – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s good to be able to see the bigger picture. And how do we get there? It boils down to a point we’ve been stressing for years: meaningful collaboration.


10th Philippine Ports and Shipping 2019: SCMAP is a supporting organization of this trade show, organized by Transport Events Management Ltd. Join us on February 20-21 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza to hear industry stakeholders discuss opportunities in the BIMP-EAGA region, including our president Christine Pardiñas.


Upcoming events: Our chapters are busy. After the success of their last Kapihan Session last month, SCMAP North Luzon will mount a General Membership Meeting on March 26 at the Widus Hotel in Clark. SCMAP Visayas, meanwhile, will mount a General Membership Meeting on March 1 at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu.


Meanwhile, we are getting ready for our next General Membership Meeting on April 11, and our upcoming Supply Chain Immersion in Bacolod on May 17-19. More information on all these events will be available in the coming weeks on our website, scmap.org.


Henrik Batallones is the marketing and communications executive of SCMAP. A former board director, he is also editor-in-chief of the organization’s official publication, Supply Chain Philippines. More information about SCMAP is available at scmap.org.


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