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Supply Chain Traceability and the Resurrection of Business Sustainability

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There’s a piece of news in circulation that by 2050 there will be a severe shortage of chocolate. Alarming? Well, this may not be alarming for sure but certainly disappointing for many because the Easter Bunny is worried.

You know that the Easter Bunny is supposed to deliver chocolate to millions of households worldwide till the end of the world. But figures that he shared with us were unsettling. Since the beginning of 2018, the price of cocoa settled at £1,756 ($2,463) a metric ton in London and at $2,480 a metric ton in New York on Tuesday, up 27% and 31%, respectively. Maybe this Easter, it wouldn’t affect as much because chocolate manufacturers procure their ingredients months ahead. But since this is Bunny’s annual event, it concerns him and the world alike.

To manage cost, may Easter Bunny compromise with the quality of chocolate made using substandard cacao beans sourced from poor soils, infected crops and labored by underpaid farm workers? Well, certainly not. And particularly because these factors disturb supply chain sustainability and Easter Bunny is wary of anything that might affect the spirit of Easter. As a supply chain professional, you may be able to empathize with his situation and also realize how supply chain traceability is an invaluable tool to harvest sustainability.

Supply Chain Traceability

  1. Traceability is valued for its process engagement, for helping with real knowledge and better understanding of suppliers. Today, it is much more than receiving goods at an agreed upon time. It requires businesses to take a lot more responsibility through non-traditional engagement with suppliers to fulfill the educated demands of consumers.
  2. Traceability reveals a lot more about difficulties and challenges that individual suppliers face in their communities. “Warm, seasonal winds have dried out the soil in Ivory Coast and weakened the quality of cocoa beans, meaning more are being rejected at ports. At the same time, the Ivorian Coffee & Cocoa Council has said it will suspend programs aimed at increasing production. Concerns about the weather also pushed Ghana at the end of February to lower its 2017/18 forecast for cocoa production to 700,000 tons from 900,000 tons.” The Wall Street Journal. Do you see how traceability creates awareness and informs us of a situation wherein we might have to consider an alternate supplier?
  3. Traceability advocates the need for on-ground information of specific and common problems faced by suppliers when aiming sustainability in their practices. Adequate information about suppliers can help custom made policies that oversee the smooth running of businesses. This helps both buyers and suppliers have proper expectation setting and often back up for the buyer side in the event of a supplier-side exigency. In a way traceability is a great contributor to supply chain risk management for businesses.
  4. Traceability is also the secret herb for business longevity. It is likely to be misunderstood as micro-management or to increase supplier side accountability (partly true) but not to coerce but facilitate goodwill that benefits both suppliers and buyers in achieving common goals such as sustainable production. Of course there is no shortcut to realizing the benefits of supply chain traceability than to begin with already by reaching out to your suppliers, talking to them, understanding their pain-points and then brainstorming solutions to harvest true transformation.

There is no overnight solution to avert crisis that concerns businesses large and small, says Easter Bunny. We need to trace the problem to its origin to brainstorm a solution. In the case of cacao farming or the global raisin shortage, we need to deploy both human intelligence and technology to prevent opening our doors to a sudden crisis. Matter of fact, traceability resurrects communal bonding through sustainable business practices. And yes, Happy Easter to you!

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