A SAFARI OF
A crop that’s popping: Good weather
is generating record yields of corn in
multiple countries this year, according
to the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA). Production in Brazil is expected
to be a record 93.5 million metric
tons (mmt), up 40 percent from last
year. Mexico and South Africa are also
projected to produce at all-time highs.
Where does it come from? The global
corn leader is the U.S., which yielded 385
mmt last year. Five states (Iowa, Illinois,
Nebraska, Minnesota and Indiana) produce
60 percent of America’s corn, according
to USDA data.
What’s it used for? Known as “maize” in
many parts of the world, corn is a most
versatile crop — a staple in the diets of
people and animals. Its starch is made
into plastics, fabrics, adhesives and other
chemical products, and corn is the main
feedstock used for producing ethanol
fuel in the U.S.
And that’s a fact: With clothing
companies striving for more sustainable
apparel, Reebok has announced plans to
use corn as a material in footwear soles.
The type of corn to be used is called field
(or yellow dent) corn, which is used in
livestock, flours and packaging material. ISM
As if any further evidence that supply
chains are going digital is necessary, a
report by international trade association
MHI details nine technologies
and innovations that are moving
procurement into the future.
Next-Generation Supply Chains: Digital,
On-Demand and Always On lists these
technologies that are disrupting the
supply management profession: ( 1)
inventory and network optimization,
( 2) sensors and automatic identification,
( 3) cloud computing and storage, ( 4)
robotics and automation, ( 5) predictive
analytics, ( 6) wearable and mobile
technology, ( 7) autonomous vehicles
and drones, ( 8) 3-D printing and ( 9) the
Internet of Things (Io T).
In a survey of 1,100 manufacturing
and supply management practitioners,
80 percent of respondents indicated
that digital supply chains will be the
predominant model in five years, and
16 percent said they already are.
“With a strategic focus and courage
to collaborate, leading firms are
utilizing these technologies to create
digital capabilities that give them the
competitive advantage they need
to survive and thrive in today’s on-demand economy,” says George Prest,
The world’s second-largest and
second most-populated continent has
untapped sourcing potential, according
to a white paper by Amber Road, a
New Jersey-based trade management
Focus on Africa: The Dark Continent Brings New Light for Sourcing states that
the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, a trade act passed by Congress in
2000 and renewed for 10 years in 2015, has helped companies diversify their
supplier bases. However, Africa presents trade challenges — including political
corruption, terrorism and the prevalence of AIDS and other diseases. The white
paper identifies a “big five” of elements procurement executives must be aware
of before embarking on an African trading safari:
1) Many factories in Africa have been established by Chinese companies lending
their expertise to the labor force, but local governments exercise most control
over what goods can be produced.
2) Africa hosts 30 percent of the world’s raw material reserves.
3) Sub-Saharan Africa will have the world’s largest growth in working-age
population in the next 20 years — more than 900 million people, according to
United Nations data.
4) A lack of transportation infrastructure remains a concern. A continent-wide
road system is decades away, and there are only seven major shipping ports.
5) The power infrastructure is deficient, and millions of people also lack clean
water or safe sanitation.