May 17, 2020

Measuring Wal-Mart's impact on South Africa

Supply Chain
Supply Chain Solutions
South Africa
South Af
Freddie Pierce
2 min
Study breaks down Wal-Mart’s acquisition of Massmart, and what it could mean to local retailers and South Africa’s supply chain
What exactly will Wal-Marts presence do to South Africas retail supply chain? A recent study tried to measure just that. According to the Supplychainfo...

What exactly will Wal-Mart’s presence do to South Africa’s retail supply chain? A recent study tried to measure just that.

According to the Supplychainforeseight research study, South Africa’s local retail sector is prepared to deal with Wal-Mart’s proven plan for success. Local retail businesses will try and compete with Wal-Mart by emphasizing communication and increasing customer service.

The local retailers are also expected to try and ‘streamline the supplier base,’ which could result in more stable, cost-effective contracts with suppliers.

“Walmart might be defined as a supply chain business that happens to be a retailer; as opposed to supermarket chains, who are retailers who happen to be in the supply chain business,” industry consultant Malcolm Leitch said.


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One problem that retailers could face is the fact that Wal-Mart could have a significant advantage with its move into South Africa. Supply Chains in the country are seen as inefficient, which Wal-Mart could completely change. In the U.S. and European market, Wal-Mart faced much more competition thanks to a solid infrastructure of stable supply chains.

Wal-Mart’s acquisition of Massmart earlier this year has sparked plenty of debate as to fair trade within South Africa, as countries as far away as Argentina opposed the deal. As the third largest distributor of consumer goods in Africa, the Wal-Mart takeover is expected to cause a pretty big rift in the South African market.

Those against it say that while consumers will likely reap short-term benefits of lower pricing thanks to Wal-Mart’s leverage with suppliers to broker better deals, the long-term effects could be disastrous to South Africa’s small businesses.

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Jun 9, 2021

Biden establishes Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force

3 min
US government lays out plans for supply chain transformation following results of the supply chain review ordered by President Biden in February

The US government is to establish a new body with the express purpose of addressing imbalances and other supply chain concerns highlighted in a review of the sector, ordered by President Joe Biden shortly after his inauguration. 

The Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force will “focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident,” the White House said. The division will be headed up by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture, and will focus on housing construction, transportation, agriculture and food, and semiconductors - a drastic shortage of which has hit some of the US economy’s biggest industries in consumer technology and vehicle manufacturing. 

“The Task Force will bring the full capacity of the federal government to address near-term supply/demand mismatches. It will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions - large and small, public or private - that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints,” the White House said. 

In late February, President Biden ordered a 100 day review of the supply chain across the key areas of medicine, raw materials and agriculture, the findings of which were released this week. While the COVID-19 health crisis had a deleterious effect on the nation’s supply chain, the published assessment of findings says the root cause runs much deeper. The review concludes that “decades of underinvestment”, alongside public policy choices that favour quarterly results and short-term solutions, have left the system “fragile”. 

In response, the administration aims to address four key issues head on, strengthening its position in health and medicine, sustainable and alternative energy, critical mineral mining and processing, and computer chips. 

Support domestic production of critical medicines


  • A syndicate of public and private entities will jointly work towards manufacturing and onshoring of essential medical suppliers, beginning with a list of 50-100 “critical drugs” defined by the Food and Drug Administration. 
  • The consortium will be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will commit an initial $60m towards the development of a “novel platform technologies to increase domestic manufacturing capacity for API”. 
  • The aim is to increase domestic production and reduce the reliance upon global supply chains, particularly with regards to medications in short supply.

Secure an end-to-end domestic supply chain for advanced batteries


  • The Department of Energy will publish a ‘National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’, beginning a 10 year plan to "develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain that combats the climate crisis by creating good-paying clean energy jobs across America”. 
  • The effort will leverage billions in funding “to finance key strategic areas of development and fill deficits in the domestic supply chain capacity”. 

Invest in sustainable domestic and international production and processing of critical minerals


  • An interdepartmental group will be established by the Department of Interior to identify sites where critical minerals can be produced and processed within US borders. It will collaborate with businesses, states, tribal nations and stockholders to “expand sustainable, responsible critical minerals production and processing in the United States”. 
  • The group will also identify where regulations may need to be updated to ensure new mining and processing “meets strong standards”.

Partner with industry, allies, and partners to address semiconductor shortages


  • The Department of Commerce will increase its partnership with industry to support further investment in R&D and production of semiconductor chips. The White House says its aim will be to “facilitate information flow between semiconductor producers and suppliers and end-users”, improving transparency and data sharing. 
  • Enhanced relationships with foreign allies, including Japan and South Korea will also be strengthened with the express proposed of increasing chip output, promoting further investment in the sector and “to promote fair semiconductor chip allocations”. 

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