Hannah M.

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On December 1, 2017, Hannah M. commented on Navigating the Risks of “America First” Trade Policy :

Thank you for an interesting read, Sam! As I read your essay, I was struck by the inherit tension between flexibility and cost reduction implied in your potential solutions. One angle with which to look at flexibility is production-location. Should Rassini attempt to have a someone flexibility production-location strategy, where is “moves” its production shop across borders (both countries and states) to react to trade policy changes, tax policy, etc.? Or should Rassini have high-tech facilities that streamline operations and minimize cost, committing to one production geography even if it later gets priced out of the market? You present some interesting questions, and I look forward to seeing how the NAFDA discussions progress and how Rassini responds.

On December 1, 2017, Hannah M. commented on Keeping Bees Buzzing: Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream :

Thank you for an interesting read! I do find it a bit misleading that Haagen Dazs raises the issue of bee-extinction when honey bees specifically are not the breed of bees facing extinction risk (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/10/10/believe-it-or-not-the-bees-are-doing-just-fine/). I think there is plenty of room for brands to educate consumers about sustainability issues impacting the food products they love; however, it is worth the extra diligence to back up the story with consumer education.

The split-ownership of the Haagen Dazs brand creates an interesting lens with which to look at this issue. As of 2001, Nestle owns Haagen Dazs US, the brand running this campaign, while General Mills owns the brand in the rest of the world (https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1009414941983387480). Not only are the ice cream ingredients and quality (above-average in US vs. super-premium in rest of world) quite different, there is little collaboration on global brand-image and campaigns. How should the brand effectively raise sustainability issues with global consumers in this case?

On December 1, 2017, Hannah M. commented on Smart Pasta: Barilla’s Digitization of the Food Supply Chain :

Thank you for an interesting read! It’s great to see that Barilla has taken the plunge (and heavy financial investments) needed to track its ingredients through the upstream value chain and into its pasta. The food industry has historically been one of the least transparent industries to its consumers, and this makes great headway in being able to show where our food comes from. Hopefully other food producers will follow and consumers will demand this information. I think Barilla, other brands, and retailers should help create broader demand for this new information. My hunch is that some consumers who appear not to care haven’t been given the opportunity to efficiently learn they when they are stretched both on time and money.

Of of the key constituents in food waste is the network of hunger-based non-profits that redirect some food waste (when edible and food-safe) to food-insecure people who cannot afford current prices. Some amount of food waste will always exist (unless digitization allows retailers to perfectly predict consumer demand AND remove the bullwhip effect). It would be incredible to see food producers, retailers, and non-profits partner to use digitization to more efficiently redirect food waste to hungry people.

Thank you for an interesting read, Viroopa! I agree that other commenters that Walmart should lead the way with both food source-transparency and food waste reduction, given it is the world’s largest grocer. While the upstream players would take a “sales hit” as waste is reduced, I believe this would be an up-front “level-set” impact and then growth trends would eventually stabilize to (roughly) match population growth. That said, there would need to be some way to incentivize the changes, particularly for public companies with investors closely tracking quarterly results. This reminds me of the Barilla case, where the sales team was hesitant to apply JITD given it would temporarily lower their sales results, and therefore, their bonuses. Is there a way to use an industry-wide campaign or even regulation to balance incentives?

Another constituent of food waste is the network of hunger-based non-profits that help serve food-insecure people who cannot afford current food prices. Hopefully reducing food waste will bring cost and price reductions along with it, but there will still be food insecurity. There is likely a long-term role for hunger-based organizations to re-direct food waste caused by imperfect demand forecasting, which seems like an issue Walmart and other retailers will encounter forever… I will be curious to watch how Walmart evolves this food waste reduction effort over time.

On December 1, 2017, Hannah M. commented on REI: A Beacon for Sustainable Business :

Thank you for an interesting read, Tiffany! Retailers benefit tremendously from the world’s growing consumption culture, so I believe REI and other retailers should therefore be held accountable for making their operations as sustainable as possible. I was impressed to learn that REI holds used product re-sales (IKEA should give this a shot), given ultimately reduces new purchases and therefore REI’s sales.

I believe that REI and other retailers should extend their sustainability missions to include the whole value chain, including upstream suppliers, as you’ve mentioned, as well as consumers downstream. I think that brands and retailers should also influence how people think about their own consumption behavior. For example, one of REI’s suppliers, Patagonia, ran a campaign telling consumers, “don’t buy this jacket,” asking them to think twice before buying new goods (https://www.patagonia.com/blog/2011/11/dont-buy-this-jacket-black-friday-and-the-new-york-times/). I’m glad REI is supportive, made possible given they are co-op without public investors. I hope they come up with even more creative solutions in the future.

On December 1, 2017, Hannah M. commented on Economic Isolationism and America’s Biggest Rival: Canada :

Thank you for an interesting read, Mark. I also have concerns with Canada’s protectionist policy towards dairy. Not only has Canada kept foreign suppliers out of the market, it has also orchestrated government-set pricing for some time (http://www.cdc-ccl.gc.ca/CDC/index-eng.php?link=123). Canada has even gone as far as to set a fixed price-premium for the country’s organic dairy dairy above regular dairy, rather than relying on consumers’ demand and willingness to pay to help set prices. While this can be an effective tool for growing the organic dairy supply and promoting the organic health trend, fixed prices likely lead to a “snowball” effect of government oversight needed to maintain a sustainable market.

My other concern with Canadian dairy protectionism is that this may limit other cross-border food trades, given the logistics cost implications. Food processors and distributors tend to “mix” refrigerated shipments over the border with heavy and light products, so as to maximize product in each truckload. Without a full suite of refrigerated products to choose from (of which dairy is a large component), companies may decide to stay in-country and miss out on potential value-creation.

If pressed, I can think creatively of a few benefits to the policy. Spreading dairy production over the US and Canada might help prevent illness-outbreaks, such as the avian flu that destroyed much of the egg supply a few years ago. Canada may also be a “winner” in global climate change as the planet warms, making it a more hospitable home to dairy cows. It will be interesting to see how the NAFTA discussions progress.