Washington DC — During the past two years, candy and snack manufacturers and their retail customers have had to adapt to never-before-seen changes and continue to navigate difficulties within the supply chain.
During a session titled State of Supply Chain: What Have We Learned and Where Are We Going? at the recent Sweets & Snacks Expo moderated by Chris Adderton, vice-president of the Council Of Supply Chain Management Professionals, two industry experts provided insights into the issues from the perspectives of the manufacturer, distributor and retailer.
Jason Reiman, chief supply chain officer, The Hershey Co., stated that there are four things a supply chain must do: be a growth lever for an organization, transform the way companies work in the digital market, put sustainability at the forefront of every decision and be people-focused.
He added that supply chains are built for resiliency but there have been too many recent events to keep up with demand. He noted that the biggest challenges to the supply chain today are labor constraints, supplier and transportation inconsistencies, inflation, monumental weather events and the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine.
“The challenges both pre-dating and as a result of the pandemic are still real,” Grant Demers, vice-president of sales, mass & club channels, McLane Co., added. “What we saw through the pandemic was this ushering in of new innovation and collaboration as we were forced to look for ways to overcome.”
Outside of the pandemic, demographic shifts and a decrease in immigration have also contributed to changes within the supply chain but Demers and Reiman confirmed that the future is bright.
They both noted that the number of conversations surrounding supply chain careers has been at a record high and the public has been overwhelmingly supportive despite the challenges being faced. There are several universities offering supply chain programs, and the overall scope of educational content is expanding, leading to more growth within talent and leadership roles, they told attendees.
Reiman remarked that it makes him nervous when he hears people talking about getting “back to post-pandemic normal” and instead referred to it as a “never normal.”
He said that dealing with the changing needs of consumers combined with an external environment requires flexibility, agility and preparation, something the supply chain needs to be equipped to handle.
“Don’t assume that the way things have always worked is how they have to happen now,” he advised. “You can ask why things are happening or why there are problems and get down to those root causes while still changing the framework around solutions for the future.”