Thursday, June 7, 2012

Commercial inventory obsessions put us at risk

Retailers continue to tighten their just-in-time inventory processes, and increasingly rely on centralized regional warehouses. It's not just in America.

The Australian agri-news site Stock and Land reports there's a study that says modern inventory and delivery practices are vulnerable:
AUSTRALIANS' growing reliance on food transported long distances on drum-tight distribution schedules has heightened the risk of food shortages in the event of crises such as floods, bushfires and pandemics, a federal government study has found.
American supply chains are susceptible to many of the same natural forces as those in Australia. We should also be increasingly concerned how economic hiccups might disrupt deliveries. If food producers, supermarkets or trucking companies got pinched in even a short-term banking crisis credit crunch, it's possible at least some parts of supply chains might become erratic for at least a spell.

It's said the typical American supermarket carries about three days worth of inventory. And I've read recently many American families keep fewer than five days worth of food in their homes.

Could you feed your family with what's on hand for a week, or two, or three - or longer - if you had to?

If thinking in less severe terms makes this easier to swallow, understand that not everything might go in short supply at once. Remember the Eggo Waffle shortage a couple years back? How about the canned pumpkin shortage of Thanksgiving 2009?

It never hurts to take stock of the things you would not want to go without, and then home stock an extra unit or two just in case. You might even save money if you do your stock-ups in quantity when you find your desired items on sale.

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