I talked with the Direct Relief about the global supply chain during the pandemic. We discussed the issues of hoarding, the impacts on the global supply chain and what could be done to realign the supply chain so that consumers had what they needed where they needed it when they needed it. Of course, the question also goes back to the word ‘need’ and how to proactively manage panic buying as well as quickly ramp up the supply chain to respond. I am excited to be quoted in their article “Global Supply Chains and Human Behavior Converge During COVID-19 Pandemic”. Read the article here.

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“It has become a familiar sight in the United States, and around the world: bare grocery store shelves — especially in the toilet paper aisle.

Though looking at empty shelves, in real life or on social media, can be unsettling, supply chain experts have reiterated that there is no shortage of food nor of toilet paper, the latter of which is mostly made in the United States.

The reason for the shortages is a phenomenon called the “bullwhip effect,” which is when the end of the supply chain, in this case, consumers at grocery stores, introduce massive changes in their buying patterns. This disruption then resonates back through all the parts of the chain, including distributors, manufacturers, and suppliers.

“By the time it gets it gets to the other end of the supply chain, it can be 10- or 20- or 100-fold worse, so it just creates these massive overages and shortages,” said Lisa Anderson, president of LMA Consulting Group, which focuses on supply chain performance. “But there are some things you can do to alleviate it.”

Anderson said a top strategy, which has been implemented widely, is for companies closer to the consumer to impose limits on purchasing certain items. For distributors and manufacturers, technologies that allow for real-time monitoring or inventory and demand can help them make better decisions about how to allocate resources.

While these strategies can help, Anderson said, ultimately manufacturers have to ramp up production in order to meet higher demand. Here, companies have a few options.”