Supply Scan

News and Trends From Across The Food Supply Chain

IFDA Releases Study On Improving Trade Relationships
A new International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) members only study, “Perspectives on the Manufacturer-Distributor Relationship: How We Got Here and How to Move Forward Together,” delivers insights on the relationship between foodservice distributors and manufacturers.

The report also provides an important opportunity to better understand perceptions in the foodservice channel from supply chain participants. The study is the first part of a three-year undertaking to find ways to improve distributor and manufacturer cooperation and is being conducted by Dr. Richard George of St. Joseph’s University. The goal is to find common ground for improvements.

“Success in the foodservice channel is dependent on the presence of high levels of cooperation among channel members, as well as high levels of trust and integrity,” says George. “This report, based upon conversation with leaders in the foodservice industry, underscores the fact that current relationships can no longer be viewed as ‘business as usual.’”

George conducted in-depth interviews with distributors, manufacturers, sales agents/brokers and industry observers. The published report provides responses to a series of probing questions, broken down by channel participant.

In addition, suggestions are offered for relationship enhancement and for channel improvement in terms of both efficiency and effectiveness.

An important determinant of the health of the foodservice channel will be the strength and dependability of relationships, says George, and measures of relationship health include trust, cooperation versus conflict, direction/degree of interdependence, and relative market power.

“What is needed is an atmosphere of openness and negotiation. It is not enough simply to pay for cases shipped. The new paradigm should focus on developing partnerships,” says George.

Sobey’s To Build Automated Warehouse
Sobeys Inc. will begin construction of an automated grocery distribution center in the Montréal suburb of Terrebonne, QC.

The distribution center, scheduled to open in early 2013, will make use of the same technology used in the company’s Vaughan, ON facility which opened in 2009.

The 470,000-square-foot facility will consolidate all of the company’s dry grocery distribution for the province of Quebec, significantly increasing Sobeys warehouse and distribution capacity while reducing overall distribution costs and improving service to its store network and customers.

“We are taking advantage of the technology that is transforming the food business in Europe and in North America, and that will become a must in our industry,” says Marc Poulin, president operations, Sobeys Québec. “This significant capital investment clearly demonstrates our intention to support a strong food distribution network and infrastructure in the Québec market.”

The facility will integrate Witron Logistik Corp. technology, which includes an automated picking and assembly system for improved product selection accuracy and the ability to customize store deliveries according to the unique store layout of each of the company’s retailers.

As part of this consolidation, Sobeys will close its Rivière-du-Loup DC and convert its Rouyn-Noranda facility to a cross-docking platform. The company will also refocus the mandates of its Montréal-North, Boucherville and Québec City distribution centers and is currently evaluating the impact to employees of the changes at those facilities.

Canadian Food Hauler Orders 50 LNG Trucks
Vedder Transport Ltd. of Abbotsford, British Columbia, has purchased 50 Model 386 liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks from Peterbilt Motors, Denton, TX.

Vedder Transport specializes in the transportation of food grade products in a bulk liquid or dry state, and offers dedicated and irregular route, truck load and less than truck load freight services throughout Canada, and between Canada and the United States.

With the purchase of 50 Peterbilt Model 386 LNG trucks, Vedder Transport is leading environmentally clean transporter of the Bulk Food Grade market.

“Vedder Transportation is committed to reducing transportation-related emissions, reducing fuel management expenses and improving air quality for future generations,” says Fred Zweep, Vedder Transportation Group president.

“Peterbilt’s Model 386 LNG truck not only helps us achieve this goal, but it also allows us to provide reliable services to our customers.”

Overall Intermodal Volume Ends 2010 Up 14 Percent
Last year was a record-setting year for intermodal and domestic volumes. International volume surged 16.9 percent in Q4 2010, helping to push overall intermodal volume up 14.7 percent for the year, according to a report released by the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA), Calverton, MD.

IANA’s Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics Report stated that the strong fourth quarter international results also helped overall 2010 international volume to increase 18.5 percent—the highest increase since IANA began reporting intermodal statistics in 1996.

After several previous quarters of decline, international intermodal volume surged every quarter of 2010, driven primarily by retailers rebuilding inventories.

Total domestic volume during the quarter was the highest ever recorded by IANA, topping 1.6 million loads, helping make 2010 the best growth year for overall domestic business since IANA started reporting intermodal statistics.

Domestic container growth was up 8.9 percent in Q4 2010, ending the year 13.3 percent above 2009 figures. This increase followed a 7.0 percent gain in 2008 and 2.9 percent growth in 2009.

Unlike international volumes, domestic container volumes never declined during the recent recession.