Truck driver retention requires more than a week of appreciation

Last week marked the 21st annual U.S. National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. With a different “National Something Week” every week, it’s easy to be cynical about this week of celebration, but some drivers aren’t.

“As a whole, we feel appreciated this week. You get that from the White House all the way to your local carriers. I think it’s a good week,” Gary Mars, a fourth-generation driver who currently works for Walmart, told Supply Chain Dive.

A strong economy, tough work in often tough conditions, increasing regulation … there are plenty of reasons why the trucking industry is still strapped for drivers. So perhaps its not surprising that Elisabeth Barna, chief operating officer and executive vice president of industry affairs at the American Trucking Associations, said 2018 may have been the biggest celebration she’s seen.

“More shippers are getting involved this year,” Barna told Supply Chain Dive, describing offers of coffee, soda or hotdogs upon arrival. This year, she’s also heard reports that some shippers are handwriting thank you notes to driver and their families — thanking them for making the sacrifice of having mom or dad away from home.

It’s a meaningful gesture, said Barna, to make the drivers feel acknowledged for the crucial and tough nature of their work. “They don’t want to be treated like a number; they just want to be treated like a person,” she said.

Snacks, T-shirts and sincere thank-you’s were surely appreciated last week, but it’s the fundamentals that keep drivers behind the wheel according to drivers and those who hire them.

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4 technologies tackling food waste in the supply chain

Food waste statistics are easily misunderstood. Between all the stakeholders, consumers contribute the largest quantity of food waste — 27 million tons per year or 43% of the total, according to Refed, a U.S. nonprofit tasked with reducing food waste.

That stat alone has led to educational campaigns and ugly produce delivery services encouraging consumers to waste less​ and change the way they think about fresh produce.

But a recent analysis by the Boston Consulting Group determined the role of private sector companies is the “most critical” in the fight against food waste. Supply chain infrastructure and efficiency alone could reduce the amount of food wasted by $270 billion (in value) of what the report estimates to be a $1.5 trillion problem by 2050.

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Think fast, think small: How Kohl’s rode the omnichannel wave

The “retail renaissance” is upon us if the headlines are to be believed, and several players who generated major worries that brick and mortar may never recover just five years ago are making triumphant comebacks. One such player is suburban big box retailer Kohl’s.

Kohl’s has made some significant changes to its operation in order to ride the very changeable wave that is the integration of e-commerce and brick and mortar retail, the most celebrated of which is a program to accept Amazon returns in some Kohl’s stores (even without packaging).

“We really only have one objective here, which is the key priority we have as a company is to drive traffic,” Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s former CEO said on a March earnings call with investors before his departure.

But what the 91-year-old chain can do with that traffic once it’s in the door is where the rubber meets the road, as Mansell admitted.

“We’re more focused on it being a great customer experience and making sure that the customer is happy when they do arrive in a Kohl’s store because that gives us the best opportunity to convert them into a sale,” he said.

How has the store answered the age-old question of how to turn traffic into sales? The answer is in its inventory management strategy.

Earlier this year, the company laid out a plan to change its purchasing and inventory management in order to get customers what they want faster and help them find it easier. The first step was to build a smaller box.

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Inside CBP’s ‘fail fast’ approach to blockchain

On August 15, news broke that Customs and Border Protection (CBP)would be one of the first public entities to test blockchain’s efficacy as a tool to streamline government work — specifically the business of international trade.

The experiment, set to begin in September, will focus on the agency’s free trade agreement certificate verification process — starting with NAFTA and CAFTA goods — said Vincent Annunziatio, CBP’s Business Transformation and Innovation Division Director on a call with reporters, a week after the initial announcement.

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Former Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb Joins S2G Ventures as Exec-in-Residence

In the wake of Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods just over a year ago, some of the company’s brightest talent have been entering the agrifood tech investment ecosystem.

Former vice president of grocery Errol Schweizer is now on the board of farm to consumer delivery service Good Eggs, insect farm Aspire Food Group and a large handful of other startups. Former global director of local brands product innovation Elly Truesdell is now chief strategy officer at consumer packaged goods (CPG) investor Canopy Foods.

But, the brightest talent of these departures is former Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb, who saw the acquisition through and left the company to form Stonewall Robb Advisors in 2017 to advise, invest in and mentor individuals and organizations committed to social justice and animal welfare.

Today, Chicago-based agrifood VC S2G Ventures announced that Robb will serve as executive-in-residence at the firm, helping the team identify new investments and mentor portfolio entrepreneurs who are moving the food system toward sustainability and health.

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Email reveals who’s really paying for Amazon Prime’s new discount at Whole Foods: vendors

The thing about straws is you never know which one is going to break the camel’s back. And though many or most suppliers of Whole Foods Market may not know it yet, the company is in the middle of rolling out yet another pretty hefty straw. This could be the one.

In early June, Whole Foods announced what many knew was coming—a significant  integration of Amazon’s prized Prime membership program into its crown-jewel acquisition, Whole Foods Market. As of June 25, Amazon Prime members will receive an extra 10 percent discount on “hundreds of sale items” at Whole Foods stores nationwide.

“Since launching Prime savings at Whole Foods Market, we’ve seen excitement and momentum from both Prime members and our supplier partners,” said A.C. Gallo, president and COO of Whole Foods Market in a statement. Flyers and Whole Foods team members are in place to educate customers in-store.

But if shoppers are getting a discount, someone in the supply chain is taking the hit. And in the case of the Amazon Prime discount, internally called the Prime Savings Program, it’s food companies, large and small, that are getting stuck with the bill.

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The World’s Most High Tech Indoor Farm Doesn’t Grow Food or Cannabis

“The real transfection of plants to make biopharmaceuticals was hatched in Palo Alto in a bar called the Sundance Mining Company in 1987,” Barry Holtz, CEO of iBio CDMO, the world’s most high-tech indoor farm, told delegates at the recent Indoor Agtech Innovation Summit in Brooklyn, NY.

Transfection is the introduction of foreign DNA into plant cells in order to instruct them to create specific proteins. Essentially, iBio turns plants into bioreactors, Holtz explained.

iBio uses highly automated indoor farming methods to manufacture pharmaceutical drugs and, according to Holtz, it already has much of the technology that today’s food-growing indoor farms are just starting to develop.

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