Corruption found in Italian tomato supply chain
Food retailers in the UK have been warned: The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) found evidence of the exploitation of migrant workers in Italy’s tomato operations. The UK purchases approximately 60% of its tomatoes from Italy, where the mafia is believed to have strong ties to the crops. Companies are being encouraged to map their tomato supply chains to avoid future damages to brand image. Despite efforts to clean up the tomato trade, it is believed that gangs still control a large portion of operations, implementing tactics such as land hoarding, illegal hiring and labor exploitation. This is, however, not only a tomato crop issue as over 25% of assets reclaimed from the mafia have a connection to the agricultural and food industries.
Despite the banning of the gang-master system in 2011, unofficial figures suggest there are at least 500,000 migrant farm workers in Italy. These migrant workers typically live in slums or abandoned buildings and are paid up to 40% below Italy’s minimum wage. ETI has called upon retail buyers to assess their purchasing agreements in order to clarify if the contract terms are a driving force behind the low working standards in the field.
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Supply chain sustainability: Important but tough to implement
There is a significant gap between the recognition of the importance of supply chain sustainability and actual strategic implementation. Results from a survey conducted by West Monroe Partners revealed that 51% of executives from various industries within the United States consider green supply chain operations a top concern. In contrast, just 37% of the executives claimed they have a dedicated team in place for green improvements to supply chain processes. In an informal survey of its readers, Supply Chain Management Review (SCMR) was able to draw similar conclusions. 70% of respondents in this poll consider sustainability a top priority in supply chain management.
The SCMR survey identified numerous barriers to implementation, including a lack of resources, an absence of buy-in from stakeholders and no dedicated budget. Despite these barriers, several motivators were revealed in both surveys, including improved brand image, increased competitiveness and the potential to save on costs. Whatever the motivation may be, the trend of more sustainable supply chain operations is sure to carry over into 2016.
Click here to read more on the survey results.
The race for the best 3D-printed midsoles
3D-Printing is nothing new to the shoe industry, at least not for New Balance, a company that has been testing the technology for a few years. The company announced they will be unveiling their new running shoe with a 3D printed midsole next month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The midsole is the part of the shoe responsible for impact cushioning. Katherine Petrecca from New Balance stated that 3D-printed parts have the potential to be superior in quality to the midsoles being produced using current manufacturing processes.
It is evident that Petrecca does not stand alone in this belief as Nike, Adidas and several other top shoe brands are jumping on the 3d-printing band wagon. According to Petrecca, 3D-printed midsoles offer better flexibility, strength and cushioning. Furthermore, implementing 3D-printing allows for on-demand manufacturing and custom-made midsoles, which would provide a perfect fit to end-users. Another major benefit of 3d-printed midsoles is a shorter supply chain, and in turn, reduced costs. The biggest obstacle for all shoe companies involved is the scaling of production.
Read more about the future of shoe production here.
Have a nice weekend!