Supply Chain sustainability.
The customer is always right. Every salesman dies a little inside when he hears those words. However, group of customers all can be profited from, thus they are always right. People do not drive business. Their money does. A firm’s main goal is to turn a profit among competing companies. Competition in business is fierce and companies always look to be the first to uncover ‘the next big thing’. Once upon a time it was customer satisfaction, then it was marketing, and most recently, globalization.
This land is your land. However, today, the globe is a small place. No longer is globalization a ‘new’ area that companies are diving into, many are veterans and some are titans. An inconvenient truth is that the economy is no longer local, regional, or even national. An American based company that sells coffee cannot afford to ignore the political, labor, and environmental conditions of the African or South American Country that provides the coffee beans.
This land is my land. I was green before it was cool. McDonalds, a global titan, has a heavy focus on sustainability. In Europe McDonalds sources 100% of its non-decaf coffee beans from farms that carry Rainforest certified beans (McDonalds). However, in America that number drops to 15%. Simply, American consumers are not yet interested, on a mainstream level, about sustainability.
This land was made for you and me. I foresee that sustainability, within the next decade, will be the new ‘it’ thing for companies. Once the ‘titan’ companies feel the effects of non-sustainable business practices via reduced profits. Hopefully brought on by consumers interested in a sustainable and renewable quality of life the rest of the smaller companies will follow in their footsteps.
The problem is competition and prices. Will consumers be willing to pay more for a cup of coffee if it comes from a sustainable bean? I don’t think so. Not until the attitude of the consumer base changes. Being sustainable means nothing to me if I do not understand it. I think what must first happen is a public perception shift away from the current one to a more environmentally conscious one. We can see the first ripples of this today. I am willing to pay a little more for organic fruit than non organic, I am willing to spend a little more money on clothes that are of better quality than not. I see this with many of my peers as well. It seems that money to today’s youth, as in the cost of products (to a degree) is not as important as it was to our parents. Fewer people I know today look at the cost of the product first. Rather they look for source, quality, and environmental sustainability when making their choices.
McDonald’s only has 15% its coffee beans sourced from rainforest certified suppliers not because it is a bad company, but because we as consumers do not demand them to. At the moment we simply cannot be bothered to care. This, I feel, will change. The youth and 20somethings growing up around the country are a lot more community and people focused than our parents were. The world is becoming a warmer place.
What do you feel is the next step in sustainability and supply chain for companies?
Are you more interested in sustainable products, if so is pricing a big factor to you? Let’s say the product becomes about 5% more expensive.