united we stand, divided we fall

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Supply chain Mind

If there's one thing I hope that the 21st Century will become known for, it's joined-up thinking. 'Silo' thinking led to World Wars I and II.

Take sustainability, nutrition and fair trading, for example. All distinct ideas, yet look closer and there's a lot of overlap. Fair and ethical treatment of suppliers is more likely to encourage openness and idea sharing, enabling all parties to grow.

And developing the social and working conditions of poorer producers will help build supply volumes and create a more flexible supply chain. That means supply chains are more resistant to the increasing instability in pricing and availability that inevitably lies ahead and can more efficiently plug the gaps in global nutrition.

As manufacturers and suppliers recognise that abandoning a purely competitive model is the best way forward, and that rivals can help each other out, so the idea is spreading up the supply chain as well.

Hence global ingredients firms are also now looking at practical solutions not just to nutrition deficiency, but to environmental issues and sustainability. Take DSM's work on 'packages' to solve vitamin and mineral deficiencies to fortify food in poorer and wealthier countries. And its statement last month on the use of enzymes to improve the efficiency of manufacturing processes, thus saving money and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

These ideas do not exist in separate boxes. They overlap, like circles in a Venn diagram. The trick is to move towards as much overlap as possible, as this would lead to the most efficient use of resources.

What's required is co-ordinated leadership, so work on solutions isn't duplicated, and a firm grip on priorities and there's nothing like scarce resources to focus the mind. Someone once said that necessity is the mother of invention. There will be a lot of economic and environmental necessity in the coming century.

Related topics Supply Chain

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