White House Supply Chain Review to Include Food Products
Computer chips and other critical parts and materials that power everything from fighter jets to the device you are looking at right now are the priorities of a sweeping executive order signed by President Biden to identify supply chain weak links. But other important sectors, including food production and agriculture, also will be included in the 100-day-long effort that is drawing praise from industry.
“The United States needs resilient, diverse and secure supply chains to ensure our economic prosperity and national security,” Biden’s executive order stated. “Pandemics and other biological threats, cyberattacks, climate shocks and extreme weather events, terrorist attacks, geopolitical and economic competition, and other conditions can reduce critical manufacturing capacity and the availability and integrity of critical goods, products and services.”
The U.S. secretary of agriculture will oversee the review of agricultural commodities and food products. Like the parallel activities to identify vulnerabilities in semiconductors, critical minerals and pharmaceuticals supply chains, the effort will seek to identify a host of potential sources of disruption, including:
- Gaps in and threats to domestic manufacturing capabilities;
- Supply chains “with a single point of failure, single or dual suppliers, or limited resilience”;
- The availability of “substitutes or alternative sources” for important goods and materials;
- “Gaps, opportunities and potential best practices” in developing workforce skills;
- The role of transportation systems; and
- Climate change threats.
The reaction from major supply chain stakeholders was positive.
“As Consumer Brands identified in a recent memo to the Biden Administration, supply chain vulnerabilities threaten the consumer packaged goods [CPG] industry’s ability to keep shelves stocked with essential products that Americans depend on to stay home and stay safe,” Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association (CBA), said in a statement. “President Biden is assuring our industry that his administration takes seriously the foreign and domestic threats to supply chains and is committed to working with the private sector on this issue.”
“Increasingly complex and interconnected supply chains need to be met with policy and leadership that recognizes that complexity and accounts for it through interagency collaboration and greater strategic direction.”
Earlier this week, CBA called for the creation of a National Office of Supply Chain. “The need to address supply chain challenges has never been greater,” Freeman explained in his statement. “Increasingly complex and interconnected supply chains need to be met with policy and leadership that recognizes that complexity and accounts for it through interagency collaboration and greater strategic direction.”
Sandeep Dadlani, chief digital officer of Mars Inc., said his CPG company’s supply chain operations had done “a reasonable job” of supporting consumers during the pandemic.
“I know there is a lot more to be done but the pandemic in a way made the supply chain much more resilient, much more digital than ever before.”
However, Dadlani added during a video interview that touched on the executive order and other topics, “We should do all kinds of gap analysis and vulnerability analysis. I know there is a lot more to be done but the pandemic in a way made the supply chain much more resilient, much more digital than ever before.”
Christopher D. Roberti , U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president for cyber, intelligence and supply chain security policy, said the chamber looked forward to providing input to the administration.
“We trust that the administration will engage closely with the private sector to ensure that any policy recommendations reject punitive approaches, new trade barriers and one-size-fits-all solutions.”
“The American public should never suffer from shortages of essential goods due to supply chain issues,” Roberti said. “We can mitigate risks to our supply chains by working with key international partners to diversify our supply chains and stockpiling select products — and we trust that the administration will engage closely with the private sector to ensure that any policy recommendations reject punitive approaches, new trade barriers and one-size-fits-all solutions.”
John Wilczynski, executive director of America Makes, called Biden’s order “critical … to secure and strengthen supply chains vital to America’s continued progress.”
Wilczynski, whose group represents 3-D manufacturers, added that the pandemic “revealed our untenable overdependence on imports and that the need for the capacity to respond quickly in the face of challenges is paramount for securing our supply chain and ensuring our nation’s continued security, health and prosperity.”