Supply Chain by the Numbers

- April 9, 2015 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of April 9, 2015

US Import Container Volumes Finally Back to 2008 Levels; Recycled Plastic Now a Hard Sell; Walmart Wants Suppliers to Fund Price Match Program; the Big Battle over Heavier Trucks


1.8 Million

The number of inbound TEU handled by US ports in March - the highest level since 2008, as the great recession soon later cut container traffic substantially and growth in global trade has been growing very slowly ever since. That 1.8 million TEU for the month was up 22% year over year, as US demand for goods from China and elsewhere shows no signs of diminishing, reshoring or not. The Port of Savannah experienced the largest year-over-year import volume gains, with volume jumping 26% to 367,798 TEU. US manufacturing just got back to peak 2007 levels in July of 2014, with both long and slow comebacks indicating just how deep the recession was.



72 Cents

That's about how much it costs right now for polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, made out of recycled plastics. PET of course is used to make soft drink and water bottles, among other uses. The issue? With the dramatic fall in oil and natural gas prices, feedstocks for producing PET, the price of new PET material is now just 67 cents, as well as being more desirable than the recycled kind. This naturally has sent the recycling sector into a tailspin, to the point where a number of recyclers have gone out of business or are hanging on by a thread. The same pattern is also being seen to a degree in paper and metals recycling markets as well. This dynamic could threaten zero waste programs by companies, and is causing problems in many cities and at private trash haulers as well as the market for the recycled products dries up.

$6 Billion

That's how much revenue the US rail carrier industry could lose annually if proposals to allow heavier trucks in US highways ever becomes law. That from a recent article in the New York Times highlighting the big battle between trucking and rail interests over the matter - and the huge stakes involved. The article noted how a rail-funded interest group called Coalition Against Bigger Trucks has paid the airfare and hotel bills for police chiefs, state troopers and sheriffs from states including Michigan, Ohio and Texas to come to Washington DC in recent years to lobby members of Congress against the change - usually with the officers not realizing there was railroad money involved. This fight is playing out as Congress prepares to take up renewal of the Highway Trust Fund, with the trucking industry looking for a way to insert language into the bill that allows heavier and/or longer trucks.


$2 Million

That's how much Walmart had rebated to customers in the first two months of its Savings Catcher program, the last time the company reported any figures. The Savings Catcher price match application was rolled out nationally last August and it guarantees the lowest price against competitor's sale prices or it refunds the difference through a gift card. The program was in the news this week because of a report in The City Wire that Walmart was asking suppliers to help fund these rebates. And that came after a major article in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago that said Walmart was putting heavy pressure on suppliers to cut promotional spending and use those dollars to reduce prices, as Walmart appears to aggressively by emphasizing everyday low pricing again – and looking for suppliers to provide much of the financial support.