Archive for August, 2010

Mr. President if you want to create some more jobs, hire some more FDA inspectors.

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

This author offered the following post during September of 2008.  The Food and Drug Administration fills 1300 positions. Are consumers safer?” If we were to answer that question today based on the most recent egg recall the answer would be obviously not.

So, I’m reading the Arizona Republic this past Saturday the 28th of August and come across the following article by Mary Clare Jalonick of the Associated Press. FDA to look at egg farms. The sub title was Official: Recall spurring action. You have to be kidding me. The article goes on to say that the Obama administration official says that inspectors will visit 600 large egg farms responsible for production of up to 80% of the nation’s eggs. This should be accomplished by the end of next year. Yes we mean the end of 2012. Snicker ;-(. Well I guess we are safer now.

The question this all begs is what won’t we be looking at while we are so focused on eggs. If we were really concerned, why would we not hire a bunch of new inspectors between now and the end of September of this year and train the during October of this year and then finish the project by the end of this year.. This author bets that you could find enough qualified job seekers to fill and carry out this task. I mean they are going to be following a check list relative to things like refrigeration, sanitation and standard practices. This is not brain surgery.

Hindsight is supposed to always be 20/20. If we visit wiki answers, the statement is defined as meaning that you can look in the past (hindsight) and see what you did wrong. Perfect vision is 20/20. So as you look back, you’re able to see “perfectly” what you should have done. So why does our government keep getting it wrong.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

How do you recall an egg or any product for that matter?

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

To this author it does not really matter. What does matter is that you have to be able to trace where the egg came from, what you fed your hens or fertilized your crops with and how the consumable was processed.

 There has been any number of efforts in food industry traceability during the last decade that has resulted in a number of silly naming conventions. You may have heard of a few of them. I guess this means because we have a naming convention that progress is being made.

1. From the farm to the table.
2. From the farm to the fork.
3. From the field to the fork.

In light of the most recent egg recall what on gods green earth is the government doing about building a sustainable and traceable food system. We have this conversation to often and not much happens until the next occurrence.

Product traceability that works would improve the efficiency and speed of response time following a food safety event like our most recent salmonella case. It would also contribute in a significant way to the protection of our public health and help consumer confidence following such an incident. Historically field investigators have been slowed by having to sort through paper reports and documents at numerous locations that are responsible for handing, packing and distributing these products.

Make sure that your procurement solutions provider has a good response relative to how they can help you support traceability in your procurement process.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What type of eggs are you buying?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

When I was growing up the choices were not so difficult. My grandfather actually owned a dairy and poultry farm. When I visited the farms there were thousands of laying hens that my dad and grandfather owned. All of the eggs were brown and sometimes dirty before they were processed.

With the most recent salmonella outbreak, it is important to be aware of what you are buying as a consumer and as a retail buyer as well as whom you are buying them from.

There are three grades of eggs sold for the US mass market and each comes in a number of sizes.

1. U. S. Grade AA Eggs are practically free from defects and have firm yolks, thick whites, and clean and unbroken shells.
2. U.S. Grade A Eggs are practically free from defects with fairly thick whites, firm yolks, and clean and unbroken shells.
3. U.S. Grade B Eggs have thinner whites and larger, flatter yolks. The shells cannot be cracked, but they may be stained.

There are however many small farmers in the country that offer their eggs to the local neighborhoods where they live. If I were going to buy eggs from these farmers I would want to visit the farm the see the conditions the chickens live in. If I were a retail buyer, I would absolutely want to do the same thing. This author bets that one is far cleaner than the other.

Make sure your e-procurement provider supports from the farm to the table traceability.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

Eggscuse me. How much productive time are we losing from this recall?

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Five Hundred million is no small number. So what is Salmonella or Salmonellosis and how sick can it make you? This is not the first time we’ve seen a Salmonella outbreak in North America and it won’t be the last.

So just what is Salmonella and what if anything should consumers do to protect themselves beyond just not eating eggs?

There are about 2000 types of salmonella and about 40,000 cases are reported each year. Salmonella Typhimurium is the most common strain.  The resulting illness may begin as little as six to as many as forty eight hours after ingestion of contaminated water or food with symptoms such as nausea and vomiting which is commonly followed by diarrhea. There are examples of the illness resulting in death, but these cases are normally restricted to the very young or old or people with other underlying medical conditions.

This author discussed the 2008 United States salmonellosis outbreak extensively which began during the spring of 2008 when hundreds of people throughout the U.S. became ill after consuming contaminated food which was believed to have come from fresh Jalapeno or Serrano peppers from Mexico and raw tomatoes.

There is no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis, but you can minimize your chances of contracting it by following these steps.

1. Thoroughly cook foods to destroy the bacteria.
2. Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before eating them.
3. Wash your hands before handling any food.
4. If you are diagnosed with salmonellosis, be sure that you or your doctor informs. the local public health officials.
5. Separate your meats produce and dry groceries while shopping and when storing.
6. Do not keep groceries in your car while you run other errands. Take them home and refrigerate them.
7. When defrosting frozen foods, follow directions completely.
8. Avoid raw or unpasteurized milk and other dairy products.

As we have discussed previously, more work is needed in developing databases of manufacturers, suppliers, brokers, growers and products that can be searched against a variety of entities or against a variety of attributes in order to trace goods to their original source of supply quickly when outbreaks of salmonella and other food borne illnesses occur.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

A blog we repost quite often.” Twenty Five-steps to running high quality e-procurement events”.

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

This author has republished this post in a variety of formats at least 8-10 times as the question never seems to go away when I meet with retailers and other companies interested in successful e-procurement implementation.

Here you go!

1. Executive sponsorship is mandatory.
2. This is required at the CEO and CFO level.
3. Get the entire buying organization together for a kickoff session.
4. Provide an over view of what you are going to do and the impact it can have on the company.
5. Use company financial models to reinforce result opportunities.
6. Discuss and agree on success criteria in advance.
7. Understand that every event will not be a homerun.
8. Singles and doubles score runs.
9. Create a fun environment such as a savings club
10. Consider prizes for the most creative use of auctions.
11. Use scorecards by department with percent of savings.
12. Discuss the meaning and importance of corporate aggregation.
13. Hand out event templates to gather existing product specifications.
14. Put a time requirement on data collection.
15. Don’t overlook any department, product or service.
16. Gather an accurate list of your present suppliers.
17. Work with your sourcing company to identify a top 100 list of events.
18. Calendar the events based on contract status.
19. Prioritize by dollar value, date and strategic value.
20. Conduct department level discovery meetings of 30 minutes to an hour.
21. Investigate existing contract language.
22. Look for auto renewal (evergreen) language roadblocks.
23. Determine alternate sources of supply with your sourcing company.
24. Develop an event rules and instruction template and post with each event.
25. Develop a clear terms and conditions template.

Although these steps are not all encompassing, they provide a format for getting started that offers the best opportunity for reduction in cost of goods, expenses and improvement in corporate earnings. Be sure to combine this with a business partner that knows your business.
 
We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Sourcing prescription drugs gets easier all of the time.

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

This was the case years ago, but with the advent of many of the internet based prescription drug sites such as RXlist, Drugs.com and many retailers sites, it is easy to find lists, formulations, directions, dictionaries and generic equivalents. What more could a Pharma buyer ask for. Now all you need to do is use your e-procurement solutions provider to drive your costs down.

According to RXlist, the top twenty prescription drugs in the U.S. are as follows.

1. Lipitor
2. Hydrocodone / Acetaminophen  
3. Hydrocodone / Acetaminophen  
4. Levothyroxine sodium  
5. Amoxicillin  
6. Lisinopril  
7. Nexium  
8. Synthroid  
9. Lexapro
10. Singulair
11. Plavix
12. Simvastatin
13. Hydrochlorothiazide
14. Amlodipine besylate
15. Azithromycin
16. Warfarin sodium
17. Furosemide
18. Azithromycin
19. Levothyroxine sodium
20. Advair Diskus

It’s never been easier to drive down your costs.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

How sustainable is your supply chain?

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

WELLINGTON, New Zealand.  According to the Associated Press A crate of Scotch whisky that was trapped in Antarctic ice for a century was finally opened today. But the heritage dram won’t be tasted by whisky lovers because it’s being preserved for its historical significance.
 
The crate, recovered from the Antarctic hut of renowned explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton after it was found there in 2006, has been thawed very slowly in recent weeks at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island. 7ed2fe14-e7cb-4557-bef1-43c8709d9217

 

Your comments might be even better if we could enjoy some of this together. This author has had 50 year old Scotch, but never anything this old.

We appreciate and look forward to your comments

Retailers; how much are you really saving with reverse auctions and other e-procurement tools.

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Further more; your buyers can not save you as much as you might save if you used these types of tools. So when and if you do, make sure you measure and understand the true savings.

There are all sorts of e-procurement companies. Not all focus only on retail. However, all of them have web sites and all of the web sites tout savings that are all over the map. The question is what type of savings are they talking about. Following are some of examples.

1. Total low quote savings.
2. Total low quote company savings.
3. Total savings awarded companies.
4. Total realized savings.
5. Total savings versus budget period to date.
6. Total category savings.
7. Total savings year to date.
8. Total annual realized savings.
9. Total potential savings.

Companies really have to be specific as to what they ask each company relative to savings opportunities and make sure they have a formula in place for calculating savings over the course of the contract period for which the products are being sourced. There are all sorts of missed opportunities associated with actual event based low quote savings that can be created by lengthy review periods, delays in sample evaluation, extended award time periods, delays in contract dates, switching costs within the finance department, delays in shipping, specifications not being matched and specification creep that results in adding more expensive non specified items.

The bottom line is that you may have had low quote savings of 28% and that’s great. You may have had net realized savings of 18% and that’s great too. However if you don’t have a plan as to how you will measure savings you won’t know what caused the leakage and it can’t be fixed.

We look forward to and appreciate you comments.

Retailers are you aware of EcoLogo?

Friday, August 13th, 2010

About Ecologo

Twenty year old EcoLogo was founded in 1988 by the Government of Canada but now recognized world-wide, EcoLogo is North America’s largest, most respected environmental standard and certification mark. EcoLogo provides customers – public, corporate and consumer – with assurance that the products and services bearing the logo meet stringent standards of environmental leadership. EcoLogo certifies environmental leaders in over 120 product and service categories, helping customers find and trust the world’s most sustainable products.

The EcoLogo Program is a Type I eco-label, as defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This means that the Program compares products/services with others in the same category, develops rigorous and scientifically relevant criteria that reflect the entire lifecycle of the product, and awards the EcoLogo to those that are verified by an independent third party as complying with the criteria.

The EcoLogo Program is one of two such programs in North America that has been successfully audited by the Global Eco Labeling Network (GEN) as meeting ISO 14024 standards for eco-labeling.

Do your part and hold your suppliers accountable EcoLogo certification.. To learn more please visit the EcoLogo website.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

This is part III of Tuesday’s post neither a leader nor a follower be.

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Due to consumer concern about the toxic effects of BPA, Japanese manufacturers voluntarily reduced the use of BPA in packaging between 1998 and 2003.

They replaced EXR coating with PET film lamination on the inner surface of cans or used an EXR paint that had much less BPA migration into food instead.

And following these reduction and replacement moves, a team of assessors claim that virtually no BPA is found in canned foods and drinks in Japan now.

I hope everyone caught the fact that this was done between 1998 and 2003 and we are still discussing this problem six years later. The fact is that some of the same companies we are speaking of also sell products in Japan.

So what might enlightened leaders do? Following is a very high level less than all inclusive examples.

1. Accept the fact that there is a problem.
2. Conduct research from other sources such as Japan that have eliminated BPA leakage.
3. Author a plan to replace existing products with new ones that are safer.
4. Willingly incur the added expense to retool processes and manufacturing products that are required to support the change.
5. Author a marketing campaign to tell consumers what you have done on their behalf relative to product safety.
6. Let consumers know what your competition is not doing.

A leader behind this plan might in fact increase market share and also sleep better at night.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.