This Week in Logistics News (November 14 – 20)

Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, MA

The “red stuff.” That’s what my four-year-old daughter calls it. She had it at her grandparents’ house a couple weeks ago for the first time and now mentions to me on a daily basis that she wants it on Thanksgiving. Yes, I’m talking about that Thanksgiving staple cranberry sauce. And I am a big fan as well. As we approach Thanksgiving, I like to reflect on the Pilgrims settlement in Plymouth back in 1621. In fact, as a Massachusetts resident I see the highway exit sign for the Plimoth Plantation every time I go to Cape Cod. Native American tribes gathered wild cranberries and consumed them in a number of ways, while also using them for nonculinary purposes such as dyes for clothing. And since the holiday is called Thanksgiving, I like to remember the circumstances the Plimoth settlers endured – landing in December with a New England winter quickly approaching, rapidly constructing the first building in two weeks while living on the Mayflower. Nearly half of the original pilgrims passed away that first winter. And it was not until the next fall that the remaining pilgrims and the Wampanoag celebrated the “first Thanksgiving.” And now on to this week’s logistics news.

Ahold Delhaize announced that is has entered into an agreement to acquire online grocer FreshDirect. Ahold Delhaize will become the majority shareholder while private investment firm Centerbridge Partners will be a minority equity investor with a 20% stake. FreshDirect is expected to retain its current branding and continue to operate out of New York City. FreshDirect is an established online grocery with a focus on fresh food delivery. FreshDirect has a reputation for innovative technology deployment, and recently initiated an advanced microfulfillment center automation project with Fabric to support customers in the Washington DC area. Ahold Delhaize brands in the US include Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Giant, and Food Lion.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement was signed on November 15. The trade partnership includes the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand – accounting for the vast majority of Asia Pacific regional economic output. According to the BBC, “The members make up nearly a third of the world’s population and account for 29% of global gross domestic product.” Despite the agreement’s massive scale, tariff changes are expected to be adopted over the next 20 years. And according to the same BBC article, Australia’s former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull referred stated, “There’ll be some hoopla about the signing and the entry into force of RCEP. I mean RCEP is a really low ambition trade deal. We shouldn’t kid ourselves.” Although I have not yet reviewed the text to the partnership, it appears that the scope of the agreement is massive, while the actual trade changes are incremental.

Amazon is laying off dozens of R&D and manufacturing staff working on the company’s drone delivery initiative, according to the Financial Times. The report states that Amazon has reached a deal with two companies, FACC Aerospace and Aernnova Aerospace, to supply components for Amazon’s delivery drones. An Amazon spokeswoman stated that Amazon is reorganizing one small team within the larger Prime Air organization. Concurrently, this week Amazon announced Amazon Pharmacy, a new store on Amazon that allows customers to complete entire pharmacy transactions online. Amazon pharmacy will accept insurance, offer savings for people without insurance, and accept flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts.

Covid-19 vaccines have been front page news this week, and the process of distributing those vaccines to the world population is a herculean task. The general public is understandably very interested in learning more about the effectiveness and availability of these vaccines. Air France-KLM is preparing a test run  to fly out dummy vaccine shipments from its Amsterdam-Schiphol hub. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines must be transported at temperatures well below 0 Celsius. I found it reassuring that logistics companies are beginning preparations for what I believe is an extremely complex, large-scale process that many people are overlooking.

PCS Software (PCS) announced announced the acquisition of UltraShipTMS. UltraShip TMS cloud supply chain management technologies and services to shippers across numerous industries. PCS stated that is will build upon its existing transportation logistics management and fleet management capabilities and expand its capabilities to create one integrated shipper and carrier platform.

Royal Mail crossed a threshhold in the ongoing increase in parcel deliveries and decline in letter mail. Royal Mail for the first time generated more revenue from parcels than from letters, as parcel deliveries accounted for 60% of the company’s revenue in the first half of its financial year.

 

That’s all for this week. Enjoy this week’s video of Adam Sandler singing the Turkey Song!