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On December 1, 2017, dliebma commented on Retail’s role in eliminating Global Food Waste :

Excellent, timely topic! While I was aware of the tragedy of wasted food in a world where hunger is still upsettingly common, I never considered the pure environmental damage that this waste additionally brings with it. While the subject matter hits on an emotional level, I agree with your assessment that a true business solution will need to revolve on more than just gut-level appeal, both for management and for customers. Fortunately, this is one of those somewhat-rare situations where the best thing for the planet happens to also be the best thing for the bottom line. I think there is still much room to incorporate more advanced analytics to assess shopper patterns and to enable better predictive algorithms to limit over-purchasing from suppliers; between customer loyalty programs to track individual shoppers, and the extensive data supermarkets are able go generate every day on a moment-to-moment basis, there would seem to be ample opportunity to limit the need to overpurchase. The supermarket could also double down on its credo by launching a more all-inclusive publicity campaign, which would bring both goodwill to the company for its efforts, and serve to educate its customers on food waste and sell-by dates and the like. Additionally, seeing as some food is inevitably going to be discarded even in an optimal operation, the company could pursue mitigation strategies to avoid landfills, such as commercial composting efforts, or methane capture for energy production.

On December 1, 2017, dliebma commented on Apple Inc. – Powered by 100% Renewable Energy :

Thank you for an interesting article. While I applaud Apple’s willingness to engage on such an important issue, I think you raise a key distinction between the “marketing” of being “100% renewable”, and the reality of Apple’s global footprint being anything but. The fact that more than 3/4 of Apple’s carbon footprint arises outside the bounds of Apple’s own facilities speaks to the enormous challenge of truly implementing a renewable/carbon neutral platform; especially given that most of Apple’s production occurs in countries where environmental protections and regulations are far more lax, and far more difficult to enforce, than in the US. Apple does have several levers of power, both of the stick and carrot variety, with the ability to offer financial and technical expertise to help with renewable energy projects for its partners, and the ability to threaten a withdrawal of future contracts for non-compliant suppliers. As it applies these levers, it will need to balance its environmental mission with its need to continue competing in a highly fickle and competitive industry.

Very interesting! I can certainly see why de-globalization would cause alarm bells to go off for a company which prides itself on bringing the world to your doorstep. I think the company’s move to acquire local intra-country shipping companies is a fantastic play, since it functions both as an effective means of expansion in any political climate, as well as a hedge against closed borders. Beyond planning for (and perhaps lobbying against) the isolationist movements worldwide, it would seem that UPS may also wish to devote some of its attention to the regional trading networks that may come to dominate even as the global trading community shrinks. For example, amid the Brexits and the NAFTA renegotiations, there is also the new (non-US-participating) Trans-Pacific Partnership, China’s potential Silk Road initiative, new agreements in south america, etc. UPS may wish to invest especially in regions where regional trade is likely to continue to grow, to position itself for a more fragmented global landscape.

On December 1, 2017, dliebma commented on Does a Trump presidency mean fewer free t-shirts? :

Thanks Brian – as if I didn’t have enough to worry about in this brave new world of ours. It’s interesting to me that companies like Gildan face so many choices regarding the use of their resources in this situation. The first set of choices seem to revolve around whether the company assumes a largely proactive versus reactive position: should the company time and energy (and possibly even lobbying capital) to try to actually influence the outcome of negotiations in their favor? Or should they focus on setting up supply chain bolsters capable of responding regardless of how the negotiations turn out? The second set of choices involve the company’s comfort with risk: do they try to predict the outcome as best they can and then invest accordingly to make the most of a new regulatory environment, or do they hedge and spread their resources around in a more defensive posture? While having a “mole” in the negotiations would be helpful to inform decisions, these things can move quickly, and it’s necessary for the company to place some of its bets well in advance of any final verdicts coming through from the negotiating table.

Very interesting read, Ashley, thank you! Counterfeit prescriptions are a serious problem for the healthcare industry, and it’s good to see Pfizer stepping up to the plate. The issue you raise with the capital expenditures required to comply with these regulations are worth exploring, however, particularly with regard to smaller pharmaceutical companies. While a Pfizer or an Amgen may have the capacity to undertake these costly upgrades, is the same true of the smaller pharma outlets which may not have the same access to either internal capital or the capital markets? Pharma is a high-risk venture, and many smaller firms run narrow margins. We appear to have competing imperatives at play: we need a competative business landscape which encourages pharmaceutical innovation, but we also need to have secure processes in place to ensure the quality and safety of the national drug supply. How can we put those processes in place, or provide the capital to do so, without constraining the industry’s ability to succeed and grow?

Thank you for this interesting article, it’s great to see large integrated healthcare organizations like BJC using their market position to leverage these kinds of needed changes in the healthcare supply chain. You correctly point out that healthcare organizations are under ever-increasing pressure to rein in healthcare costs without sacrificing quality; the industry’s notoriously inefficient and expensive supply chains are a prime area in which to seek these kinds of savings. You began to touch on this supply chain digitization as a “first step” of sorts towards a more globally digitized healthcare ecosystem. Many in healthcare refer to this as the “clinically integrated supply chain”, and it is in many ways the holy grail in this industry;the notion that we can automatically incorporate real-time clinical data from the EHR to track patient flows, make efficient scheduling decisions, track resources, and place orders for replacements, from one central information hub. There remain some critical hurdles to this integration, however – patient privacy laws like HIPAA place strong restrictions on use of patient data, for example, while the EHR landscape remains highly fragmented. Further, any fully integrated system, or any system capable of exchanging patient information across providers as you mention in your final paragraph, will require cross-talk between different electronic platforms which doesn’t currently exist. An interesting legal/regulatory approach which has been raised is whether such platforms should be regulated in a manner similar to telecoms; in other words, sprint phones are required to be able to talk to verizon phones. Should a similar regulatory approach be pursued to coerce Epic EHRs to interface with Meditech ones? Is this anti-competative?