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Thanks for sharing this interesting perspective on the impact of Brexit on UK’s dairy industry. I was intrigued to learn from the article that Brexit’s potential increases in import tariffs may make local dairy products more competitive as compared to imported brands that in turn may result in food and beverage conglomerates such as General Mills actually ceasing distribution of their products in UK. While I agree that Brexit is most likely going to result in increase in import tariffs, I believe there is also a possibility that the UK government decides to reduce or remove import tariffs post Brexit. This could open up the domestic dairy industry to competition from outside the EU. The most likely products involved would be butter and cheese. New Zealand is the main global exporter of cheese. It currently has access to the UK market via EU quotas but may seek to increase shipments, providing competition for UK supplies. For cheese, there is a wider variety of potential suppliers, including Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada. These suppliers could provide increased competition for domestic cheese, potentially driving down prices throughout the supply chain.

Thanks for sharing this article, Amanda. It was super interesting to read and learn about the impact of Brexit on Tesco! I agree with all your recommendations for Tesco including domestic sourcing and and inventory management to maintain profitability post Brexit. I think the question you raise about long- term implications of Brexit on dynamics of the British food industry is an important one. I’d like to highlight two implications that stood out to me.

Firstly, Europe is UK food and beverage industry’s most significant export market and 55% of all UK farm income is derived from European subsidies [1]. If we take away European subsidies, only the largest-scale and most intensive greenhouse-gas-generating British producers are able to compete in globalised commodity markets. To counter thus, we would need an imaginative new system of subsidy that gives public money to farmers for public goods, or we risk driving them off the land in droves.

Secondly, the UK food and beverage industry is heavily reliant on migrant workers from the EU and without free movement of labour as many as 25% of the workforce could be lost [2]. To counter this, options such as a seasonal worker scheme such as a visa-controlled permit scheme to allow seasonal agricultural workers employment in the UK would need to be considered.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/26/brexit-watershed-farming-food-industry-michael-gove

[2] https://www.willistowerswatson.com/en/insights/2017/04/UK-food-and-drink-industry-post-Brexit

On December 1, 2017, Tanvi commented on Value-Based Healthcare: Game-Changer for Medical Suppliers? :

Thank you for your post, I really enjoyed reading it.

You have alluded to the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) wave in med-tech and I imagine that this trend is only going to get bigger given the advantages that it offers – the ability for physicians to constantly monitor patient data, the ability to improve patient adherence to therapeutics, and most importantly, the collection of big data on health outcomes that can be then mapped back to the therapeutic care given to the patient. Such changes will allow for measuring the value of care very effectively as we will be able to pinpoint those therapies which yielded better results than others. Micheal Porter has defined value based healthcare as improved outcomes divided by reduction in costs [1] and your argument will definitely allow the numerator to be better measured.

Having said that, I am not sure how whether medical device companies like Medtronic will adapt their supply chains basis this trend in digitization of healthcare. While I agree with you that the overall digitization trend will allow med-tech companies to better plan their inventory and perhaps start engaging in just-in-time inventory manufacturing through better prediction of demand from customers, it may also happen that customers start being more picky about which devices they really want. For example, with patient outcome data available that can be mapped back to the medical device used for the patient, hospitals and doctors may start preferring some devices over others and change their preferences much faster as new technology comes out because they have access to the end outcomes data!

This should be worrying to medical device manufacturers because their emphasis on quality and tech advancement will only increase. However, it will be wonderful for the patients!

1 The Strategy That Will Fix Health Care, Michael Porter, Thomas H Lee, HBR, October 2003

Thanks for sharing an insightful article and for highlighting such a critical topic. Digitization in healthcare supply chain is a really critical intervention to save lives. The public healthcare system in developing countries such as India are yet to leverage technology to make their supply chains effective and efficient and this is leading to significant loss of lives. In India, 45,000 mothers died last year (10 times the number in China), 800,000 babies died within their first month, 1.2 million children die before their fifth birthday [1]. This is no surprise given that in India, most of the population cannot afford treatment at private hospitals and public hospitals have abysmal infrastructure and quality of care. One of the key drivers of this lack of infrastructure is lack of availability of critical life-saving supplies at hospitals. In 2015, there were up to 90% gaps in availability of essential supplies such as oxytocin, misoprostol, amoxcillin and other antibiotics in public hospitals in a state called Bihar in India [2]. These supplies are essential to save pregnant women during delivery and newborns in critical conditions.

The Cardinal Health model is extremely relevant in these contexts. The government is currently trying to implement a digital Hospital Management System to ensure transparent tracking of stocks for drugs, equipment, commodities and consumables but has a long way to go. I think there is huge potential for organizations such as Cardinal Health to step in here and get the government to outsource management of supply chain at public hospitals to them. I was very impressed to read and learn about how Cardinal Health is leveraging technology to help hospital networks streamline supply processes especially how they are capturing and using real-time data to make decisions across the entire supply chain. This transparency is critical to efficient operations and just what is needed by developing countries like India with broken healthcare systems to keep patients safe.

[1] UNICEF Progress Report 2013

[2] Government of Bihar – Hospital Management Information System 2015 Report

On December 1, 2017, Tanvi commented on Kellogg’s Leadership in Fighting Climate Change :

Thanks for sharing an interesting perspective on this important topic of climatic change impact on food industry and vice versa. I was impressed to read and learn about Kellogg’s initiatives to address climatic change. It was heartening to note that Kellogg is making efforts to both mitigate its impact on, and adapt to climatic change. I also appreciate the leadership role it has played along with other leading food and beverage companies in raising public awareness through media and collaborating with governments and NGOs to guide public policy. I think another area in which Kellogg could potentially pave the way is identifying and investing in technological solutions that help adapt to climate change. For instance, one such promising agricultural technology startup – Agrilyst – is an indoor-farm with better water retention, longer “sun” hours through LED lights, and adjustable CO2 levels, aimed at mirroring a ‘conducive climate of the past’ to help grow crops better [1]. In an indoor farm, water doesn’t inconveniently evaporate. LED lights can lengthen the hours of sunlight so plants can grow faster. CO2 levels can be tweaked. Even as the weather outside goes haywire, plants farmed indoors can live out an optimized version of the weather that they co-evolved with — the weather of the past or a weather-independent environment. By investing in such technologies, Kellogg can go a long way in dealing with climatic change and ensuring food security in the long term.

[1] Heather Smith, “Will climate change move agriculture indoors? And will that be a good thing?”, Grist, February 3, 2016, http://grist.org/food/will-climate-change-move-agriculture-indoors-and-will-that-be-a-good-thing/, accessed November 2016

Thanks for sharing an insightful article. The food industry is indeed one of the most prominent drivers and victims of climatic change. It is thus paramount for conglomerates within this industry such as Nestle to take action both in mitigating their contribution and in improving their resilience towards climatic change. I think they are moving in the right direction with respect to improving the resilience of small holder farmers – the steps that Nestle is taking to do this as mentioned in the article make a lot of sense. However there may be an opportunity to do more especially in terms of promoting and practicing sustainable sourcing of crops. This includes encouraging farmers to undertake sustainable farming and researching and developing more resilient raw materials. For example, Unilever is targeting to source 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020 [1] and seems to have already made good progress towards achieving this goal. By the end of 2014, 96% of Knorr’s top 13 vegetables and herbs were sustainably grown, with carrots, peas, potatoes and tomatoes reaching 100% in the EU. The company has a number of tools in place to help its suppliers and farmer’s source sustainably and it relies on its suppliers “self-assessment”. With every crop cycle, farmers and suppliers perform a self-assessment of their operations against the requirements of the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code. After that, through an independent verifier, the company checks whether these self-assessments are robust and credible.

[1] Sarantis Michalopoulos, “Food industry focuses on sustainable sourcing to mitigate climate change”, EurActiv.com, November 20, 2015, http://www.euractiv.com/section/food-chain-sustainability/news/food-industry-focuses-on-sustainable-sourcing-to-mitigate-climate-change/, accessed November 2016.