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The Wall Street Journal reports that companies “facing consumer resistance to higher menu and supermarket prices … are responding to increased prices for their commodities by trying to squeeze more costs from their supply chain -- the collection of relationships that moves goods to stores from factories and warehouses. That means grappling with excess inventory, inefficient truck routes, poorly planned production schedules and the computer systems managing the process.”

One example cited by the Journal is Delhaize-owned Hannaford Bros., which “used to receive two shipments a day, a load of fresh groceries such as dairy products and meat first thing in the morning, and a load of nonperishable items like canned soup and boxed cereal at night. The split delivery made it easier for store managers to process fresh items before the store opened and let them restock the rest of the store after closing … Hannaford used its transportation-management system and other planning software to analyze how much the split-delivery schedule cost the company and to see if there was a more cost-effective way to make deliveries. Earlier this year, Hannaford began combining the two deliveries for some of its 160 stores. It is less efficient for the store managers, but the added expense at the stores is offset by the savings on fuel, which the company says will be between $500,000 and $1.5 million chain wide this year.

“Hannaford has also made other changes with the aid of supply-chain technology, such as a system that helps drivers maximize fuel efficiency that is says should save the company $500,000 this year.”

The Journal makes the point that among the beneficiaries of the current environment are software companies coming up with a wide variety of tech-based solutions.

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