National Truck Driver Appreciation Week 2020

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week holds a special meaning this year as truck drivers have gone above and beyond to keep stores, hospitals and other healthcare facilities stocked in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The 3.5 million truck drivers working in the U.S. continue to safely and securely deliver essential goods. From passing out lunches to decorating highways with ‘I 💚  Truck Drivers’ signs, everyone’s finding a way to get involved and show their gratitude. Here are just a few of the reasons to be thankful for truck drivers:

 

1.   Truck Drivers Work Long Hours

Being a truck driver demands a lot of time spent on the road. The average truck driver works 60 hours a week and drives 107,000 miles per year*. Long weeks paired with long drives require a serious amount of dedication!

2.   The Trucking Industry Keeps Our Economy Strong 

The trucking industry is responsible for the transportation of products that are classified as essential. Keeping stores stocked and supply chains moving requires a lot of involvement – that’s why 5.8% of jobs in the U.S. are related to the trucking industry.

3.   Truck Drivers Adapt to the Unexpected 

Covid-19 has required truck drivers to adapt to new conditions on the road. Many rest stops have closed for business in the spring and restaurants have introduced new restrictions. Even though finding a place to park or eat is looking a little different, truck drivers are still powering through.

National Truck Diver Appreciation Week 2020 Infographic

4.   They Leveraged Reduced HOS Restrictions to Work Even Harder 

The Covid-19 emergency declaration resulted in the reduction of hours of service (HOS) restrictions. Truck drivers throughout the U.S. took this in stride, working harder and for longer hours to transport essential goods across the country.

5.   Truck Drivers Keep Our Shelves Stocked 

The full shelves shoppers have grown accustomed to wouldn’t exist without truck drivers. In 2019, the transportation industry was responsible for 72.5% of all freight in 2019. Without truck drivers, it would be a lot harder for so many products to make it from point A to point B! 

6.   The Transportation Industry Supports Front Line Workers 

The transportation industry has worked tirelessly through the pandemic to keep hospitals, care centers and homes supplied with the essentials they need. Products transported by truck drivers empower front line workers to perform their jobs as safely and securely as possible.


Kuebix is extremely thankful for the work truck drivers do every day, and it has never been clearer than now that truck drivers are our heroes on the road! 

 

*source cdc.gov

Food Distribution and Restaurant Blog Post

Flexible Food Distribution and Restaurant Business Models

Covid-19 has left restaurants and food distribution companies scrambling to stay afloat. Many are straying away from their traditional business models to keep their companies from going under. The food distribution industry is already expecting to take a $110 billion loss for a year which is a third of their 2019 revenue. The industry lost somewhere between 60% – 90% of their sales in April.

Changing Rules and Regulations

Guidelines for restaurants and food distribution companies looking to operate in the midst of the pandemic vary by state, but they all agree that smaller crowds limit the chance of exposure. Restaurants are advised to limit the use of shared items like condiment bottles, salt shakers, menus and avoid pre-setting tables with silverware.

Regardless of steps being taken to make dining out safer, many people still aren’t comfortable with the idea of going out again. A survey by the Democracy Fund and UCLA Nationscape Project found that only 50% of respondents feel comfortable going out to eat. Restaurants are getting creative in an attempt to change this statistic by setting up patios for outdoor eating, launching new menus, offering cocktails to-go and creating QR codes to allow guests to view their menu online.

Changes to the traditional food distribution and restaurant business models demand a change from their supply chains in return. Many restaurants and food distribution centers had to shut down for a period of time when Covid-19 began to spread. Pausing a company’s supply chain altogether is expensive and leaves products at a standstill. Restarting a supply chain, especially when perishable goods are involved, can be just as costly. Food distribution companies and restaurants were left to find a way to continue to operate under these new circumstances. Here are a few examples of how companies are making it work:

How Traditional Business Models are Responding

Restaurants Become Grocery Providers and Distributors

The Cork and Barrel Wine Bar in Zionsville, Indiana is one of the many businesses that temporarily shut down as a result of Covid-19. Rather than wait until they were allowed to resume business as usual, owner Sarah Hine transformed the bar into a delivery business and mini grocery store.

The restaurant partnered up with Piazza Produce, a wholesaler in Indianapolis that was also looking for a way to keep their operations moving in the midst of Covid-19. Together, the companies produced consumer-sized quantities of products that people needed but were struggling to locate at the grocery store. They began doing 30-40 deliveries a day and while it didn’t replace the business lost, it helped the Cork and Barrel Wine Bar and Piazza Produce keep their doors open.

Both businesses were fearful of not being able to re-open should they have to close their doors. While shifting to a delivery model changed the stock and supplies they needed for operations, it prevented them from having to press pause on their supply chains altogether.

Deli Counters Utilize Grab-and-Go Method

Many deli counters initially responded to the pandemic by shutting down because they were unsure of how to operate. However, deli meats are convenient and easy to snack on – two qualities that are especially important to consumers during the pandemic. To meet rising consumer demand, deli counters are starting to pre-package popular products. While Covid-19 has made it uncomfortable for customers to stand in lines or crowds, they are more than happy to adapt to a grab-and-go method for their favorite deli meats.


While retail food and beverage companies have always needed to remain nimble to respond to changing customer demand, the pandemic has forced many to rethink their supply chains in order to stay open. Having a flexible supply chain that is able to adapt to a changing environment ensures that companies that need to rethink their business models can do so and continue to thrive even after economic hardships like the Coronavirus pandemic.

Construction Industry Blog Post

Surmount Supply Chain Challenges in the Construction Industry with Technology

Between companies regularly distributing, manufacturing or using construction products, the construction industry experiences a steady flow of business. One thing all construction companies can agree on is the importance of operating efficiently in order to meet project deadlines. There are a number of barriers between smooth logistics operations and successful project completion for the construction industry. Below are just a few of the obstacles present in their logistics operations:

New Site Safety Regulations

In most cases, completing a project requires a number of professionals to be on-site completing tasks as a group. The pandemic has restricted the amount of workers that can safely work together at once. Adjusting to having fewer team members on-site and able to contribute to the project has resulted in a decrease in overall productivity

Rising Cost of Construction Materials 

The cost of raw materials needed for manufacturing construction materials rose by 2.2% in June. The surge in price can be largely attributed to supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic. Construction companies who realize they’re short on materials in the middle of a project will have an even harder time replenishing their stock in addition to dealing with a hefty price tag.

Strict Deadlines 

Deadlines are common within the construction industry, but Covid-19 is making them more difficult to meet. New rules and regulations in warehouses, supply chains and on construction sites slow down operations to ensure cleanliness. Anything sourced internationally has even more stops to make before it can reach its final destination. Visibility throughout the supply chain is essential for companies to make sure they’re able to comply with new rules and regulations and that their deadlines are feasible. 


Technology’s Role in the Construction Industry 

With the help of a transportation management system like Kuebix TMS, any construction company can take control of their supply chain and overcome industry-related challenges. Kuebix TMS helps logistics teams plan, book and gain visibility over all of their shipments. Whether the company is sourcing raw materials for delivery to a manufacturing plant or shipping to a construction site, Kuebix TMS can simultaneously cut costs and improve operational efficiencies.

Kuebix TMS users can seamlessly rate, book and track their freight to save time and improve customer service. Real-time tracking information keeps users informed and allows them to provide customers with better information in regards to the location and estimated arrival time of their purchase. Kuebix TMS provides users with detailed reports and dashboards that can help them make better informed decisions to further improve their logistics operations.

Integrating Kuebix TMS with an ERP like Microsoft Dynamics or NetSuite can drive additional cost savings. An ERP integration eliminates the need to re-key long lists of order line items, decrease labor costs and increase order accuracy.

The construction industry involves a wide range of products and professionals, but that doesn’t mean their logistics operations have to be overwhelming. Any construction company can leverage technology to help them successfully complete a project, meet deadlines and more!

Food and Beverage Blog Image

Unique Challenges Facing Food & Beverage Supply Chains

Food and beverage companies produce and distribute essential products every day. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in food shoppers buying supplies for a longer period of time (ex. shopping for 2 weeks at a time instead of 1) and purchasing products such as toilet paper, paper towels and disinfectant wipes in bulk. Practicing new skills like baking banana bread and sourdough bread have become popular ways to pass time. A recent study by Acosta revealed that 50% of respondents are spending more on groceries than they did pre-pandemic. Below are just a few of the elements challenging food and beverage supply chains as they race to keep up with heightened consumer demand.

Temperature Control Needed for Freshness

Not all products are able to travel in a standard truck responsible for the delivery of many different types of freight. Some food and beverage products must be stored at a specific temperature. Failing to meet the optimal conditions can result in the degradation of the quality of food and render products unsellable. To meet the needs of these products, shippers have to use refrigerated trucks. Making sure that a temperature-controlled truck is available and able to fit all of the required products is an added process for logistics professionals to consider.

Products Sensitive to Expiration Dates 

Nearly all food and beverage products have an expiration date on their label. While non-perishable items offer more flexibility in terms of when they hit the shelves, products like fresh produce and vegetables are not as forgiving. Time-sensitive products must be moved efficiently to ensure they reach their final destination in a condition that’s prime for selling. Shoppers want fresh vegetables and produce that will remain fresh for a period of time even after purchasing. It’s up to food and beverage companies to make sure their perishable products are in the right place at the right time.

Rapidly Expanding Product Variety

Consumers are starting to gravitate towards healthier products made of fewer ingredients. However, they are not interested in compromising on taste. Manufacturers are constantly adjusting to consumer taste and preferences which creates a wider variety of products. For example, a product as simple as yogurt now dominates the refrigerated aisle of grocery stores to accommodate different flavor preferences and dietary restrictions (oat, almond and soy bases to substitute for dairy). With each new product comes new storage and transportation specifications, making it even more complex for supply chains to keep stores stocked.

How Technology Can Help Keep Food & Beverage Supply Chains Moving

Food and beverage businesses are juggling unique challenges within their industry and those brought on by Covid-19. Implementing technology like Kuebix TMS into their supply chains gives power back to the shipper and lightens their workload. With Kuebix TMS, food and beverage companies can rate, book and track their shipments in a single system. Kuebix TMS gives users complete visibility and control over their logistics operations, making it easier than ever to keep even the busiest supply chains moving. Real-time tracking information and detailed analytics empower shippers to improve their customer service and make better informed decisions.

Chemicals Blog Post Image

What to Keep in Mind When Managing a Chemical Supply Chain

The chemical industry faces a unique set of challenges regarding safety in their logistics operations. The transportation of chemicals requires next-level care and expertise as it deals with sensitive and potentially dangerous materials. Errors in shipping chemicals that are hazardous can have serious consequences.

While logistics operations are typically intricate by default, shippers and manufacturers responsible for the production and transportation of chemicals have to pay even closer attention. Here are some of the things to consider when preparing your logistics team to transport chemicals:

Appropriate Number of Drivers 

Companies shipping chemicals need to be aware of the number of truck drivers they have and the strain they’re put under based on the number of hours spent on the road. The risk of an accident is heightened when hazardous materials are involved. Truck drivers must be well-rested and prepared to transport goods or products that carry the weight of these additional risks.

Accurate Product Labeling and Storage

Such sensitive materials must be accurately labeled to ensure they’re going to the right place and are properly stored. Many chemicals call for temperature-controlled trucks or especially cautious handling. Improper labeling or storage can result in delivery to the wrong destination or a potentially harmful reaction. 

Product labeling and storage relies heavily on effective inventory management. Knowing how much of a product you have and where it’s located is crucial in being able to successfully load and ship orders. Ineffective inventory management can lead to higher levels of waste and excess storage costs. Companies that are shipping chemicals need to be especially careful because of expiration dates on their products that can be dangerous if forgotten or neglected.

Strategic Route Planning

Chemicals need to be transported both quickly and safely. Detailed route planning is a significant factor in helping truck drivers make their deliveries on time. It can also help truck drivers navigate roadblocks or construction sites that they wouldn’t otherwise be aware of. Route optimization requires logistics professionals to be aware of the number of required stops, requested delivery time and traffic patterns in the area.

How to Manage Complex Chemical Supply Chain Needs

Upon first glance, managing the demands associated with a successful chemical supply chain may seem overwhelming. However, implementing a transportation management system like Kuebix TMS can simplify the process regardless of your supply chain’s size. 

Kuebix TMS is a cloud-based platform that enables customers, suppliers and carriers to collaborate and have complete visibility and control of their shipping operations. Kuebix TMS offers features necessary to combat the unique challenges in the industry including product compatibility when building loads involving hazardous materials, route optimization and detailed analytics that empower shippers to make better informed decisions.

July 4th Infographic Featured Image

*Infographic* Americans Plan to Spend Big on Independence Day

American Independence Day is a holiday most commonly celebrated with hotdogs, hamburgers, refreshing beverages and festive fireworks. Enthusiasm for the 4th of July isn’t hard to find in the U.S. – celebrations of all sizes take place at homes throughout the country! Though this year may look a little different due to the pandemic, Americans are planning to celebrate safely from their homes. This means that the supply chain is still hugely important for making the 4th of July celebrations happen. Here are some statistics on consumer spending in preparation for Independence Day!

Kuebix July 4th Infographic

It’s up to supply chains to keep store shelves stocked and able to keep up with consumer demand. E-commerce shopping is even more important this year as consumers social distance and grow increasingly accustomed to online shopping. Seasonal products like red-white and blue decorations depend on efficient logistics operations to move them from warehouses to retailers as quickly as possible. Maximizing on sales during a time of year with heightened demand is critical for the success of businesses. No matter how different the 4th of July may look this year, Americans are still planning on spending big to celebrate!

Kuebix TMS Manufacturing Infographic

*Infographic* Kuebix TMS Has the Manufacturing Industry Covered

The manufacturing industry is facing unique challenges during Covid-19. While the rest of the world is put on hold, manufacturing companies continue to operate and produce essential products. They are keeping stores stocked and making sure that we can all have exactly what we need during this time of uncertainty. Manufacturing companies provide a crucial service to the entire country every day, and their continued dedication during the pandemic is admirable.

With Kuebix TMS, manufacturing companies can make significant improvements to their logistics operations and transportation management regardless of size. Adapting to the new rules and regulations prompted by Covid-19 calls for visibility throughout supply chains. Kuebix Transportation Management System (TMS) provides real-time tracking information for better communication amongst all logistics stakeholders. The cloud-based platform seamlessly integrates with ERP and WMS systems and provides actionable analytics. Kuebix TMS empowers shippers to make smarter decisions and hold carriers and suppliers accountable.

At Kuebix, we understand that it’s never been more important to keep America’s supply chains moving. In support of businesses operating during the Covid-19 pandemic, Kuebix is offering 60 Free Days of Kuebix Business Pro TMS to help users expand capacity and manage supply chains remotely. To learn more about Kuebix’s Stimulus Free Offer, click here.

Kuebix TMS streamlines the entire shipping process including creating and printing BOLs, tracking and tracing invoice shipments, automating invoice audits and much more. Simplify managing your supply chain remotely with complete visibility and collaboration for all logistics stakeholders. Sign up to unlock increased operational efficiencies and learn why over 2,714 manufacturing companies trust Kuebix TMS.

Manufacturing Infographic Image

We Understand the Unique Challenges in Your Industry, That’s Why Kuebix:

  1. Is in production fast – complete implementations measured in weeks and months rather than quarters and years
  2. Seamlessly TMS integrations with ERP and WMS systems
  3. Provides actionable analytics that help shippers, makes smarter shipping decisions and hold carriers and suppliers accountable
  4. Scales to meet the changing needs of any size supply chain

From automobile and aviation to agriculture, we’ve got your industry covered!

Kuebix TMS Valentine's Day Flowers

The Supply Chain of Your Valentine’s Day Flowers

The History of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day existed in a variety of forms before settling into its fixed date of February 14th. It can be traced all the way back to a mid-February holiday on the ancient Roman calendar, existing as a day to celebrate the possibility of new life even before Saint Valentine was around. 

Saint Valentine’s reputation became permanently linked to love because of his work as a Roman priest. Soldiers were forbidden to marry because a Roman Emperor believed married soldiers did not make good warriors. Saint Valentine married these soldiers anyways and wore a ring with a Cupid on it – a now infamous symbol of love – to help soldiers identify him. This legend is largely responsible for Saint Valentine becoming known as the patron saint of love.

Medieval author Geoffrey Chaucer solidified Valentine’s Day as a holiday for romantic love in 1381 with a poem he wrote, and the “modern” commemoration of a romantic partnership with one other person on February 14th began. 

Valentine’s Day Flowers By the Numbers

Celebratory staples for Valentine’s Day include chocolate, stuffed animals and bouquets of flowers. The Society of American Florists estimated that 35% of Americans will purchase flowers this year, equating to about $2 billion in sales. Most shoppers don’t stop to think where the abundance of beautiful flowers come from, but it takes a lot more than love in the air to get stores stocked in time

The U.S. produces fewer than 30 million roses, barely making a dent in the 200 million roses that are expected to be purchased for Valentine’s Day. Most of these flowers are imported from Columbia before being sold and sent to recipients in the United States. In total, UPS expects to ship 89 million flowers this year, weighing in at roughly 9 million pounds! 

The Complicated Logistics of Shipping Flowers

Having a perfect Valentine’s Day is difficult for anyone – supply chains included. Flowers are highly perishable and depend on a multinational cold supply chain to ensure quality and delivery within as little as two days. Trucks responsible for the transportation of flowers have to be temperature controlled and stick to a tight schedule to ensure customer satisfaction. 

UPS is no stranger to the pressure of Valentine’s Day. They recently announced the addition of 50 flights to handle over 517,000 flower-filled boxes traveling through Miami International Airport. Temperature-controlled aircrafts and trucks are responsible for importing flowers from fields all over the globe to the United States. UPS rushes to meet the shipments at their Miami facilities and get them into a refrigerated warehouse cooler. From there, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents inspect and sort boxes for clearance before they’re ultimately received by their distributors to be delivered. 

Whether you’re giving or receiving a fresh bouquet of flowers this Valentine’s Day, be sure to thank the complex supply chain that made its safe delivery possible! 

 

Super Bowl Food and Beverage Suppliers Retailers

Super Bowl LIV Will Be a Big Day for Food & Beverage Suppliers

The Super Bowl is an unofficial American holiday – and like any good holiday celebrated in America, there will be lots of food and drink consumed in households nation-wide! In fact, Super Bowl Sunday is the second-highest food consumption day in the USA, right after Thanksgiving. Americans will spend an average of $81 dollars per person to celebrate. This means food and beverage retailers will have their work cut out for them to manage their supply chains and keep customers happy on game day!

This year’s Super Bowl LIV, the 54th Super Bowl, will decide the champion of the NFL’s 2019 and 100th season. The San Francisco 49ers will face off against the Kansas City Chiefs. Many football fans not located in New England are pleased that the New England Patriots will not be going to this year’s Super Bowl, the team having broken their own record for most Super Bowl appearances by any organization of all time in 2018!

Food & Beverages Consumed on Super Bowl Sunday

No matter who you’re rooting for, however, there are several food and beverage staples that will be served at Super Bowl parties everywhere. Common items include buffalo wings, chili, baby back ribs, dipping sauces, pizza, and potato chips. Beer will also be flowing, with popular brands including Bud Light, Budweiser, Corona, Samuel Adams, and Coors Light.

According to an article published by Men’s Fitness, Americans plan to drink 325 million gallons of beer on Super Bowl Sunday this year! In addition to all that beer, an estimated 28 million pounds of chips, 1.4 billion chicken wings, and 8 million pounds of guacamole will be devoured this weekend!

Chicken wings are the unofficial food of this unofficial American holiday. The National Chicken Council announced that chicken wing consumption will be up by 27 million units over last year’s Super Bowl! If you break this number down, that’s roughly 337.5 million chickens slaughtered for this one event (2 wings, a drumette & a flat in each chicken)! If all of these chicken wings were laid out end-to-end, there would be enough to circle the Earth 3 times!

 

Sustainability and the Supply Chain

Many Americans are opting for plant-based meat alternatives this Super Bowl. Trends like Dunkin Donuts’ Beyond Meat Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches and Burger King’s Impossible Whopper have forced meat-alternatives into the public eye. The supply chains of meat-based products are known to require more resources, including more water and fuel which can be expensive and harmful to the environment.

The impossible burger alone is purported to require “87% less water use, 96% less land use, 89% fewer GHG emissions, and 92% less dead-zone creating nutrient pollution than ground beef from cows.” For Super Bowl Sunday, many health and environmentally conscious football fans will be making buffalo cauliflower “wings” instead of traditional chicken wings. With plant-based meat alternatives and other substitutions becoming more popular, food and beverage retailers have the opportunity to save resources and win consumer loyalty by offering meat-alternatives.

How Food and Beverage Supply Chains Can Keep Up

Making sure that your customers have their game-day rations is a must for any food and beverage company that sees a spike during the Super Bowl. But staying ahead of increased shipping volume, not to mention any unforeseen winter weather events can be a challenge. By implementing technology like a transportation management system, any company that needs to prepare for the Super Bowl can smooth out their shipping process and get complete visibility throughout their supply chain.

Transportation management systems (TMS) eliminate operational inefficiencies while providing benefits to all parties. Customers, suppliers and carriers can collaborate on a singular platform with real-time tracking information and side-by-side rate comparisons to save time and money. This is especially important as for food and beverage companies, like those that sell chicken products, ahead of America’s unofficial football holiday!

 

Veterans Day 2019 - Supply Chain

The Supply Chain Wouldn’t be the Same Without Veterans

Veterans Day is an opportunity for everyone in the United States to take a moment to stand together in respect for all those who have served our country. Each year, Veterans Day (formerly called Armistice Day) falls on November 11th, the day that World War I ended. It’s a chance for all of us to reflect on the courage and sacrifices our veterans have made, and a time to honor the contributions veterans make every day in the private sector even after they leave the military.

Top Industries Veterans Join After the Military

Some of the top industries that veterans join after their service include the information technology sector, manufacturing, and the transportation & warehousing industry according to Military.com’s list of the top ten career paths for veterans. In particular, veterans play a crucial role in keeping the supply chain running smoothly.

According to TruckerNews, “There are almost 22 million veterans of the U.S. armed services in this country, according to the Census Bureau. About 9 million of them are part of this country’s workforce and about 11 percent of them work in the trucking and affiliated industries.” This means that nearly 1 million supply chain professionals in the U.S.A. are veterans!

Why Veterans Make Ideal Supply Chain Professionals

One of the reasons that so many veterans join the supply chain industry after leaving the armed forces is their proven experience. Being a logistics professional takes a level of dedication and hard work that can be difficult to be gained places other than the military. Additionally, veterans often have hands-on experience transporting, tracking and delivering goods; experience which can translate seamlessly into virtually any logistics position.

Many carriers, 3PLs, suppliers and warehouses make a point of hiring veterans because of these characteristics and because veterans are known to learn quickly, work effectively under pressure and think innovatively when solving problems. There are many programs that actively recruit military veterans to join their corps and many others which can help get veterans the training they need when transitioning from the military to the private sector.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that you are likely to run into veterans in all types of supply chain career paths. Whether they become the truckers that keep our economies moving and our communities functioning, they’re handling logistics and tracking in a team setting in an office, or working in warehousing and demand planning, veterans are in an invaluable part of the supply chain industry.

Thank You for Your Service

Veterans Day is a day to remember the sacrifice and bravery of our country’s veterans and a time to acknowledge the important roles veterans play even after they leave the military. To all those who have served our country, and all who continue to serve, Happy Veterans Day!

3 Times Social Media Upended the Food & Beverage Supply Chain

3 Times Social Media Upended the Food & Beverage Supply Chain

Social media has changed every industry and the supply chain hasn’t escaped unscathed. In fact, social media has been behind some of the biggest, and most well-publicized, disruptions in the supply chain over recent years. It’s a question of supply and demand. In the past, forecasters were able to rely on historical data to approximate how much of a certain product would be needed. Now, viral videos, tweets, and even memes can throw off those calculations severely by influencing customer expectations.

This phenomenon is particularly apparent for food and beverage supply chains that deal with hundreds of thousands of sales each week of products with short shelf lives. Huge upticks in sales on a particular product can disrupt production and test the agility of procurement and logistics teams to keep up. Below are three examples of times social media upended the food & beverage supply chain.

Starbucks Gets An Unexpected Endorsement

Early in 2019, Starbucks’ Cloud Macchiato got an endorsement on Twitter by Ariana Grande, a wildly popular singer, songwriter and actress. Grande tweeted about how much she loved the new iced drink and her fans, self-proclaimed Arianators, rushed to their local Starbucks locations to purchase their own.

Senior Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer at Starbucks, Kelly Bengston, recalled how the company hadn’t counted on the huge popularity of the drink brought about by Grande’s social media followers and fans. Speaking in regards to the increase in demand, Benston said, “It creates an amazing opportunity to test how agile your teams are… How do you get to business? How can you move it from store to store?”

The challenge for Starbucks lay in judging how much product was needed to satisfy fans while the Tweet was trending on social media while not overbuying to the point where there was wasted product. It’s a delicate balancing act that forecasting cannot fully take into account.

Rick & Morty Joke Presents McDonald’s With an Opportunity

Disney’s Mulan was released more than 20 years ago. To promote the release of the movie, which takes place in Han dynasty China, McDonald’s added Szechuan Sauce as a condiment option for their Chicken McNuggets. The sauce was a limited release and had been largely forgotten until 2017 when social media would resurrect it and disrupt McDonald’s supply chain.

After an episode of Adult Swim’s popular show Rick and Morty referenced the long-forgotten dipping sauce, the joke was turned into a meme that went viral across the internet. To capitalize on the social media presence, McDonald’s decided to bring the sauce back for a one-day promotion in limited quantities at certain locations. Fans purportedly drove across state lines and even from Canada to get their own Szechuan sauce experience.

Unfortunately, the popularity of the promotion vastly outweighed the amount of Szechuan sauce packets distributed to McDonald’s locations and thousands of fans missed out on the opportunity to participate in the “pop-culture phenomenon.” Furious fans took once again to social media to expound upon their disappointment and urge McDonald’s to bring back the sauce in a larger release.

Rising to the challenge, McDonald’s announced that it would ship some 20 million Szechuan sauce packets to stores in late February 2018. This curbed the social media debacle and ended with McDonald’s being able to satisfy their customers and earn back loyalty. Even though the Szechuan sauce joke in Rick and Morty was just a throw-away joke, it had real-world supply chain implications when it hit social media.

Twitter Feud Sparks a Run on Chicken Sandwiches

More recently, a Twitter feud between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A sparked a social media controversy about which retailer sold the better chicken sandwich. The controversy began in August 2019 when Popeyes introduced a new chicken sandwich item onto its menu. The sandwich was an instant success, even being ranked by Business Insider as the No. 1 fried-chicken sandwich. This prompted Chick-fil-A to tweet “Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the <3 for the original.” Popeyes quote-tweeted it directly, adding “…y’all good?” and igniting a flurry of tweets by chicken sandwich fans nationwide.

Due to the huge social media attention it was receiving, Popeyes sold out of its new menu item in just two weeks after it was introduced. Supplying enough buns for all the chicken sandwiches the company was selling was a main issue. In a creative supply chain move, Popeyes launched a campaign called “Bring Your Own Bun” so that more sandwiches could be sold. The program encouraged guests to order the three-piece chicken tenders off the menu then construct the sandwich themselves.

Popeyes has announced that the sandwich would be returning to its 150 Popeyes locations in early November this year. In order to keep up with the production of the hugely popularized sandwich, Popeyes is adding an additional 400 employees. Up to two people per store will be solely designated to making the sought-after menu item going forward.

Can Supply Chains Stay Ahead of Social Media Trends?

Social media’s influence across the supply chain is a new frontier for most companies. It can be a challenge to react to unexpected endorsements (or negative comments) in a productive way. These stories about Starbucks, McDonalds and Popeyes can act as examples of how to handle demand shifts for other food and beverage supply chain companies. By seizing the opportunity to promote their brands, these companies were able to restructure their supply chains by increasing production, altering logistics, communicating with customers, and even adding staff. The key is to stay informed on social media trends and not be afraid to be flexible in the face of social media’s influence on customers.

Kuebix TMS Fall Seasonal Products

Seasonal Flavors Like Pumpkin Spice Add Complexity to Supply Chains Before the Holidays

October is almost here and with it comes seasonal favorites such as apple cider, candy corn and pumpkin spice. With every brand that tries to stay on this theme comes additional supply chain complexities. The chaos of keeping up with consumer demand is already heating up despite holiday season still being a month away!

Data from Grubhub shows the three most popular months for pumpkin and pumpkin-spice-flavored dishes are October, November and September, respectively. Other flavors such as apple cinnamon, pear and maple grow in popularity around this time as well. The five states with the highest number of pumpkin-related orders are California, Oregon, Washington, Ohio and Utah.

While the most common forms of pumpkin treats are baked goods like cakes and cookies, nonconventional businesses are getting in the spirit as well. Spam launched its own Pumpkin Spice Spam this year and sold out within seven hours. Last year Buffalo Wild Wings offered customers a limited-edition pumpkin ale sauce to accompany their infamous chicken wings.

The most challenging part of pre-holiday season is making sure that inventory is in the right place at the right time. Companies who struggle with this face out-of-stocks and missed chances for sales. It can be difficult to predict which seasonal products will resonate with consumers and drive business. It’s important to be able to move product efficiently and minimize operational delays.

Visibility throughout the supply chain also allows shippers to provide accurate and real-time information to retailers and customers alike. Retailers will have accurate information about when they will be restocking and consumers will know when they can expect to receive their product. This additional information allows retailers to provide better customer service and leaves pre-holiday shoppers more satisfied.

Implementing technology into supply chains creates a smoother shipping process for all involved and provides complete visibility throughout the supply chain. Transportation management systems (TMS) eliminate operational inefficiencies while providing benefits to all parties. Customers, suppliers and carriers can collaborate on a singular platform with real-time tracking information and side-by-side rate comparisons to save time and money. This is especially important as retailers and distributors gear up for the busy holiday season and start introducing seasonal favorites like pumpkin spice flavors to store shelves!

Bahamas - Hurricane Dorian Supply Chain Kuebix

Hurricane Dorian Threatens Supply Chains Needed for Recovery

When Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane this past Sunday, it left devastation in its wake. The storm brought with it high winds and extreme flood waters that would rip off roofs and ruin houses. Adding to the destructive nature of the storm was its slow movement up the coast. Instead of traveling quickly over several areas, Hurricane Dorian stalled over the Bahamas, traveling at a mere 1 mph at times. This left buildings and infrastructure along its path to be relentlessly pummeled for up to 12 hours at a time.

Now, Hurricane Dorian has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane. While this still poses a threat to the states of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, weather forecasters hope that the storm will blow itself out over the Atlantic without additional destruction in the United States. However, many islands and coastal communities have been evacuated and transportation and supply chains have ground to a halt as Americans prepare for a potential disaster to rival that seen in the Bahamas.

In addition to individuals preparing for the storm, many businesses are also feeling the direct effect of Dorian. Manufacturers and suppliers located in the southeast have been preparing for the impact for more than a week. This means rushed production, rushed delivery and around the clock monitoring of the storm’s trajectory. Many businesses are in a state of unknown paralysis as they’re unable to open business back up until the threat of Dorian is over.

Getting the labor force back to work will also be a challenge when Dorian finally passes later this week. Families are displaced across the country, many homes will be uninhabitable, and communities will still be picking up the pieces. Roads are likely to be dangerous or impassible as well, adding to concerns about shipping necessary products. Some aid organizations are choosing to deliver supplies like food and water by helicopter to areas already impacted since extensive debris litters roads and makes ground transportation impossible.

Hurricane Dorian’s Destruction

  •      •     Five confirmed deaths, though this number is anticipated to rise as rescue efforts persist
  •      •     Storm surges between 12 – 18 feet hit Grand Bahama Island, causing extensive flooding
  •      •     An estimated 13,000 homes have been completely destroyed or rendered uninhabitable (approximately 45% of all homes on Grand Bahama and Abaco)
  •      •     Winds reaching upwards of 185 mph
  •      •     60,000 – 62,000 people will need to be provided with food and water according to the Red Cross
  •      •     Airports are closed – Hurricane Dorian has caused more than 1,300 flights to be canceled within, as well as into and out of, the US.
  •      •     Several Florida ports have closed including Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, Jaxport, Port of Tampa Bay and the Port of Palm Beach

The recovery efforts in the Bahamas will undoubtedly be extensive. Many nodes of the supply chain were broken or stalled by Dorian and need to be fixed before recovery efforts can truly move forward. These are a few of the ways that the government and private organizations are working to keep supplies flowing and the supply chain operational:

  •      •     The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration expanded its Hours of Service regulations suspension to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
  •      •     Police in Florida are escorting gas trucks in order to keep fuel moving to areas in need
  •      •     Highway authorities are reversing lanes to make room for evacuees
  •      •     More than 5,000 national guardsmen and 2,700 active-duty personnel have been deployed or positioned to respond in 24 hours or less

“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of the northern Bahamas,” said Prime Minister Hubert A. Minnis said at a news conference late on September 2, 2019. “Our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery. I ask for your prayers for those in affected areas and for our first responders.”

While the world watches to see the final results of Hurricane Dorian’s destruction, supply chain and logistics professionals work tirelessly to get things back to normal. Food, safe water, medical supplies, fuel, and just about every other necessity rely on the supply chain.

Kuebix TMS Sustainability Meat Alternative Labor Day

What’s Your Burger Made of This Labor Day Weekend?

Beef burgers have been a summer barbecuing staple for generations of Americans. From Memorial Day to Labor Day families and friends will gather to share this favorite food in backyards across the country, not to mention year-long at many popular fast-food chains. The traditional beef burger is changing, however. Now, when you head to your neighborhood BBQ this weekend, you may find yourself with a wider selection of burger patty options than you expected.

Meat-free options, health-conscious choices, and other patty alternatives are currently trending with consumers. The $90B global meat market is facing disruption unlike anything it’s seen before, with new fake-meat products entering the market every day and consumers branching out from traditional beef products.

Here are a number of popular beef patty alternatives that you may find at your Labor Day barbeque this year.

Beef patty alternatives:

  • •     Fake-meat patties (Beyond Meat, the Impossible Burger, etc.)
  • •     Veggie burgers (MorningStar, Gardein, Dr. Praegers, etc.)
  • •     Mushroom burgers
  • •     Homemade black bean burgers

Why Are Beef Patty Alternatives So Popular?

According to FAIRR, a global network of investors addressing ESG issues in protein supply chains, “Alternative proteins, which include plant-based substitutes for animal-based foods, are expected to capture 10% of the meat market in 15 years and are now worth around $19.5 billion.” It’s easy to see that beef patty alternatives are popular, but the question still remains, why?

Sustainability

Consumers continue to place a heavy emphasis on sustainability, with 68% of US internet users citing product sustainability as an important factor when making a purchase. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that livestock supply chains account for 14.5% of all global anthropogenic GHG emissions, a number which includes the burning of fossil fuels worldwide. Many consumers are searching for a more sustainable way to continue to enjoy burgers without contributing as highly to global emissions.

Changing Diets

Changing diets are having an impact as well. You’ve probably heard about diet trends like Paleo, Low-Carb, Vegan, Vegetarian, Keto, and Low-FODMAP. These and many other diet types play a role in consumers desire for patty alternatives. Some diets focus on weight-loss, reduced-sodium content, eating more “whole” foods, eliminating allergies, improving digestion, and adhering to religious or personal ethics. Consumers are becoming used to having more options to choose from to fit their lifestyles and the burger industry is only the latest industry to see a great diversifying of products.

What Does This Mean for the Supply Chain?

Many large brands are jumping on the meat-alternative bandwagon, and this doesn’t just include burgers! Most recently, Burger King, KFC and Dunkin’ Donuts announced that they would be adding fake-meat products to their menus. Now, you can get a vegetarian Whopper, vegan fried chicken or a plant-based sausage breakfast sandwich. Conagra’s Gardein meat-alternative unit saw its share of the meat alternative market rise to 11% in 2018 from 6% in 2013. Not wanting to be left out of this lucrative market, Nestle is launching its own plant-based Awesome Burger this fall.

The surge in popularity of meat alternatives is having both positive and negative effects on the supply chain. In the short term, manufacturers are facing issues with production. In May, the Impossible Burger’s creator, Impossible Foods, was forced to hire a third shift for its production line and begin building a second line to double supply. Many brands have signed new contracts with food service companies which they may not be able to fully supply at first.

Some grocery chains are also struggling with where to shelve fake-meat products. Some have shelved Impossible Burgers and other meat-like options in the meat aisle, much to the confusion of some. Others are creating or expanding their vegetarian and vegan sections to accommodate new products. These short term problems are expected to slacken as production lines boost output, procurement teams become accustomed to a new category, and retailers adjust their offerings.

In the long term, meat-alternatives promise to be easier for supply chains. This starts with a reduction in the need for livestock which require their own complex supply chains to function. In general, plant-based products have fewer touch-points compared with meat-based products, meaning logistics teams will have fewer points to manage. Patties will also be easier to transport and have higher levels of food safety. Once the initial hurdle of transforming supply chains to accommodate new SKUs and product types is complete, this promises to be a new, lucrative industry for food manufacturers to compete within.

So, if you get to the grill this weekend and see more options than just the standard American beef patty, pick the one that works best for you and remember to have a great Labor Day weekend!