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EP 163: Waste in the Supply Chain

On this episode, I was joined by a very special guest who is a Global Supply Chain Management student at my Alma Mater, Rider University, and who I have been mentoring for the past academic year through my APICS chapter’s mentorship program. His name is Steven Evan and I am happy to report that as of this writing he has landed himself a full-time job for when he graduates this May. I brought Steven to the podcast because he wrote a very interesting thesis entitled “Too Much or Not Enough: Finding the Balance Between Waste and Shortages in the Supply Chain” which I thought was a great discussion to have. We talk about the thesis, waste in the supply chain, and also his take on learning in the current environment.

Key Takeaways

  • I always find it very interesting to talk to students since they are the future of our industry and essentially the world. In the past year, it has been even more interesting hearing how they have been dealing with learning in the pandemic because it is a vast difference from anything I ever experienced in my educational career. Steven shares how they have been able to adapt very well to the virtual environment and being connected with him for a large portion of that time it has certainly seemed like the supply chain department has really focused on still making the program quite engaging. The one thing that Steven misses is the site tours which I couldn’t agree more with because those are just fun.
  • One thing that Steven shares is how he got interested in the supply chain which was actually from his time working in the produce section of a grocery store. He began to wonder how do these products get here and what goes into making sure there is enough there which lead him to discover the supply chain. For his thesis, he took this a step further and began to think about what happens with the waste that is generated in these produce departments. He developed this idea and started to explore waste and shortage issues in the supply chain.
  • The most remarkable takeaway for me is that 40% of food waste in North America is due to the supply chain. This is crazy and we need to do better in the supply chain world. Through the thesis, Steven explores this and where the waste is actually occurring. In his research, he found that 7% of this waste is occurring on the distribution side of things. Many times in the warehouse, especially for food, the amount of inventory is a huge factor in creating waste. In many cases, it is a race against time to get the product out and to consumers before it passes the sell-by date. Optimizing this and understanding your forecasts as much as possible is the best way to reduce this.

Listen to the episode below and let us know how you are reducing waste in the comments.