I wonder how human consumption patterns will weave into this. As mbergin mentioned, meat production, particularly beef, has a very high carbon footprint. For a given calorie, beef requires ~160x more land and produces ~11x more greenhouse gases than a calorie obtained from staples like potato, rice or wheat. The trends towards vegetarianism and veganism will help support a more environmentally friendly food consumption patterns. Perhaps Cargill, with its diversification across different food types, could play a role in pushing consumer demand towards low footprint diets.
Awesome article! To jgrchild and TOM lover – I am a little skeptical about how truly “surprised” LFP actually was to learn that 25% of their workers were not documented. I know from my time in government that corporations often turn a blind eye to regulation until it actually gets enforced. Use of third-party verification can be used as a method of intentionally turning a blind eye and shifting blame to others (though in this case, it seems LFP was held legally liable). The best example of this is in areas like outsourced labor, where large US companies have claimed ignorance on sub-par standards (e.g., use of child labor) because it was done through a third party. So I wouldn’t completely absolve LFP of blame.
I agree with Simon, I think that prices would rise across the board. This will lower aggregate demand for the amount of products provided though, so I do think it would hit Target and the industry pretty hard. There would be an overall contraction as the industry adjusts to lower levels of demand at the new higher prices.
To the question of impact on US society – there are certainly many negative impacts on consumers. However, one positive thing to think about is the impact on consumeristic culture & the disposability of cheap items. Reduced access to low cost goods may increase the longevity of products (e.g., clothing, furniture) which could help reduce waste.
See below for my value-add comment.
Is the Avocado the victim or the perpetrator?
The changing climate definitely puts our avocado supply at risk. In additional to the bee shortage, rising temperatures leads to higher susceptibillity to disease for avocado plants and droughts (e.g., in California) have led to use of higher-salt water which shrinks avocado size.
But… our avocado obsession is also contributing to climate change. Given the booming US demand for avocados, there has been deforestation in Mexico (sometimes illegally) to plant high return avocado farms for import businesses.
Based on my own expeirence I believe avocado demand to be inelastic.
This is such an important topic. I think your example of Delta speaks to a broader risk that digitization brings across industries. As physical objects (e.g., cars or planes) become connected and as services are rendered and tracked online (e.g., paypal) we gain efficiency but we also open ourselves up to large-scale security risk of cyber attack. By connecting everything, we create an economy of scale for ourselves but also for someone wants to disrupt and destroy. We have seen tragic incidents of terrorism with single cars, trucks or planes, but consider the destruction that could be wrought if these could be accessed at scale.
Very interesting! Another significant area where Amazon may disrupt the healthcare supply chain is in the pharmacy space. Their strong distribution channels and good customer relationships provide a baseline infrastructure that could allow them to take on pharmacy distribution. To this end, they have already begun buying pharmacy licenses in multiple states. Further down the road, they could also be a position to acquire or take on the pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and also move from selling and distributing drugs into provision of a pharmacy insurance benefit.