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Top 10 Supply Chain Blunders

Conceptually, supply chain management is as logical and straightforward as any other business process.

As many supply chain strategy articles have demonstrated over the years, the strategies make sense, the processes are well established, and the goals are clear. Supply chain managers are tasked with using their resources to plan, source, and deliver the freshest product to consumers at a reasonable cost.

That’s a simple task—on paper.

When the risks and uncertainties of the fresh produce operating environment are added into the mix, supply chains become much more complex and difficult to control. Poor weather hurts product availability and quality, constrained capacity stretches delivery time, and inconsistent customer order patterns generate higher costs.

Even the most well-planned and technologically integrated produce supply chains are susceptible to disruption and impossible to fully control at any cost.

Given the inability of companies to establish bulletproof supply chains with 100 percent certainty of perfect order fulfillment, it is imperative to mitigate potential problems whenever possible. This starts in-house with a concerted effort to avoid self-inflicted wounds.

The fresh produce supply chain is a minefield of complexity, risk, and uncertainty. Companies cannot afford to compound these challenges by making costly internal mistakes.

By understanding the blunders presented over the next two weeks, produce companies can begin the process of mistake-proofing their supply chains. Alignment of strategies, processes, and technologies with key suppliers and customers will help organizations sidestep these blunders and pursue exceptional service at an affordable cost.

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.


Dr. Brian Gibson is executive director of Auburn University’s Center for Supply Chain Innovation and a former logistics manager. He is coauthor of Supply Chain Management: A Logistics Perspective (10th ed.) and active in supply chain executive education, research, and consulting.