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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- April 19, 2013

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of April 19, 2013

US Apparel Production Woes; Unilever Keeps Landfill-Free Movement Going; Oil Prices Dropping, Will Diesel Follow? Swatch Asks Government to Let its Customers Go




Index level for US apparel production as of March numbers from the Federal Reserve, versus a 100 score for the baseline year of 2007. That means that US apparel production is now about 43% below 2007 levels. That would be bad enough, if 2007 was a strong year for apparel production, as it was for many other US industrial sectors, and 2007 did represent the historic high for overall US manufacturing levels. Alas for the apparel sector, its production highs were in the early-mid 1990s, reaching an index score of 288 in 1994. See the chart for the apparel and several other sectors here.




Number of manufacturing facilities in the US and Canada (including a couple of country headquarter buildings) that consumer packaged goods giant Unilever said this week are now "zero waste to landfill" (ZLF) operations. That means operations in both countries have now fully achieved ZLF status, joining the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Japan, where the achievement has already been reached at all facilities. The company says its waste reduction efforts have saved almost 70 million euros thus far, and it expects that figure to increase as it moves towards meeting its 2015 goal of ensuring all 252 worldwide factories across 70 countries are ZLF.


Current approximate price for a barrel of Brent crude oil, down from about $96 as recently as the end of March. That 9% drop should eventually result in lower diesel prices, although that has not yet really materialized, as the US Energy Administration Information Administration says average on-the-road diesel prices are still about $3.61 per gallon on average, down just a smidgen from the $3.74 at the end of last month. Commodity prices in general have been dropping sharply in the past two weeks (natural gas an exception).



Market share of watch "movements" that divisions of Swatch Group control in the luxury Swiss watch manufacturing market – but Swatch wants to cut that back. Swatch has asked Switzerland's Competition Commission for permission to decrease the number of movements and other parts it sells to competitors, saying it needs more of the production for its own luxury watch brands, and that other Swiss watch makers such as Cartier and Tag Heuer can scrimp on R&D by acquiring Swatch movements at low prices. A decision is expected in a few months.

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