business news in context, analysis with attitude

Another perspective on the truck driver shortage, from an MNB reader:

 My husband has been a driver for just short of 20 years and on Thursday will be parking the truck for the last time to leave the field.  With the new regulations, he has taken a 25% pay cut  (on a good week) – making about 70K a year now – not a shabby amount at all.  But, that 70K is having him gone from home 6 nights a week, working crazy hours to ‘make the clock work’ and avoid sitting in traffic for hours on end hoping that he can make it to the next stop before the clock runs out.  The price increases are going to happen, as more truckers are leaving the industry because the money that they do make is not enough to warrant working nights, weekends and being at the mercy of loading dock staff to get him in and out in a reasonable amount of time.  The replacement drivers are working cheaper, but companies are having to put more trucks on the road to move the same amount of product, hence the price increase at retail.  The loser here is ultimately the consumers who are paying more in store.

Yesterday, we took note of a Food & Wine report that Amazon-owned Whole Foods “is delaying a policy that would have required its suppliers to label genetically modified organism (GMO)-containing products on its store shelves by September of this year,” a policy that was announced five years ago.

According to the story, “Whole Foods cites upcoming U. S. Department of Agriculture standards as the reason behind the change and has not yet provided a new deadline.” The retailer told suppliers in a letter that it “wishes to avoid any undue additional costs or challenges to food manufacturers based on the USDA's guidelines.”

I commented:

Interesting. I wonder if there will be some who will argue that this represents less of a commitment to the GMO issue on Whole Foods’ part since it was acquired by Amazon. At first glance, it may be argued that Whole Foods is following rather than leading.

I think it may actually be more interesting that Amazon/Whole Foods is casting this as a pro-vendor position, especially since there are considerable tensions between the retailer and many of its suppliers these days. This may be something of an olive branch.

One MNB reader responded:

It’s no olive branch - not with Amazon at the helm.

From another reader:

Over promises and under delivers.

And I'll add when I traveled on business years ago I would always seek out a WFM for their food bars and of late it's clearly evident they have lost their edge and have mass produced their foods to such a degree it's unappealing at this point.

So again, over promised and under delivered!

And from another:

Olive branch...too little too late for food manufacturers. In order to meet an on-shelf deadline of September 1, food manufacturers have all but made the change within their supply chains. Think of how long it takes for new labels to be created and printed, labels sent to manufacturing facilities and inventory produced, sent to warehouses, shipped to Whole Foods/UNFI, etc. New ingredients potentially having to be sourced, or existing ingredients approved through non-GMO Project verification. All this work would have already been done to meet the requirement, so for Whole Foods to push this requirement out to an unspecified date, 3 months prior to Go-Live is being blind to all the work they made happen behind the scenes at their suppliers...and are I say, very Wal-Mart-esque of them...demanding things be done regardless of what it takes to make it happen. I'm not blind to the fact WFM made this requirement announcement 5 years ago, so shame on the companies waiting until the 11th hour, they should have had their ducks in a row years ago. But for companies who are constantly providing WFM with new innovations items or small start-up companies who are running thin teams and hustling, this is a lot of undue burden.
KC's View: