Daily Archives: January 10, 2011

It Looks Like We Can Sustain The Global Food Supply Chain, But

we may not be able to afford it!

Last year, when we asked if we [can] sustain the global food supply chain, we noted that global food reserves reached fifty, if not one hundred, year lows and that global shipping is currently responsible for 4.0% of all global climate change emissions due to an utter lack of regulatory requirements compared to the automative and trucking industries. This was pretty scary since it doesn’t take many natural disasters to wipe out a state’s (or country’s) crops.

According to this recent article in The Telegraph, global food prices have surpassed 2008 highs when shortages led to riots in a number of countries. Up for the sixth month in a row, primarily due to soaring sugar prices (which reached 398.4 points in December) and rises in cereals (which reached 237.6 points) and oil (which reached 263.0 points), the FAO Food Price Index was the highest since records began in 1990, reaching 214.7 points, topping the previous high of 213.5 in June 2008.

This does not bode well for the burgeoning poor, who have been out of work since the recession began in 2008.


Atlantic Business recently ran an awesome article that got my attention on the first word and reeled me in with the first sentence. Entitled Think!, the author starts off by noting that he

worries [that] we seem to have forgotten or dismissed the value of careful and considered thought. Common sense seems to be in very short supply. Examples of this are everywhere. We send an email, one which is important (at least to the sender) and we expect a reply virtually instantly. Indeed, if one is not forthcoming within 15 minutes we begin to wonder if the recipient has died.

But more importantly, you have to:

think about this: assume that the question being asked is important. We must therefore want a careful and considered response, a response which has had the complete attention of the recipient. Is it reasonable to assume this could possibly have occurred within 15 minutes?

I have to agree. There’s no way you can construct a deep and thoughtful response to an important question in 15 minutes. Even if you have been thinking about the question for days, it still won’t be possible to create a well crafted response in a few minutes — especially if something else is on your mind. But yet, if the call isn’t returned promptly, you fear that the caller is unable to focus on anything else.

Similarly, it seems that if a journalist, or blogger, doesn’t cover a “breaking” story the minute it happens, he feels that he’ll miss the boat. It used to be a company would make a big announcement and the next day it would be a headline. Now, the release goes up on the website, and 5 minutes later there are half a dozen stories about the latest funding round, merger, or acquisition followed by additional thoughts a few hours later — all based on the release or some cookie cutter responses from PR people in an advance call.

How much “analysis” can one truly come up with in in a few minutes? What can you possibly say that goes beyond a seat-of-the-pants reaction or a gut feeling? If you’re a true expert in the space, then the chances that your seat-of-the-pants reaction or gut feeling will be accurate will be (much) greater than 50%, but it’s still just a gut feeling. True analysis takes time and thought. And even if it doesn’t change your viewpoint, I know I’d much rather read a viewpoint knowing that deep thought (over a sufficient time period) was put it into rather than an impromptu piece where there’s a chance that the author might change his mind in a day or two. If most of don’t have the time to read a story on the same announcement twice, we definitely don’t have the time to be confused — and that’s what will happen if we read a differing opinion from the same source a few days apart.

And while I really couldn’t put it in a word before, that, in a nutshell, is why SI doesn’t cover “breaking announcements” as they happen. Not only is an average press release packed full of PR BS, and not only does it generally not contain enough information to truly analyze what the announcement means from a product/service perspective (which is what this blog really cares about and why the Editor insists on demos as a goal of SI is to help you in your quest to be a better Supply Management professional), but there’s no way you’re going to get a decent analysis and a reasonable opinion on a press release with insufficient information in a few minutes (or even a few hours).

You can be sure that if something’s important, SI will cover it when we’ve gotten to the heart of the matter. But we’re not going to ask “how fast” just because some PR person decides its time for the media to run with a story. The Editor wants deep thought put into what he takes the time to read, and it would be unfair to expect that you would be satisfied with anything less.

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