To the editor:
esting reading about Mike Wright's views on the new supply chain relationships resulting from Efficient Consumer Response in Supermarket News, Oct. 30, Page 1.
As the leader of one of the largest food distribution companies in the world, Mike's message is one that we should all heed. He and his management team have prepared Supervalu to take advantage of the benefits that greater efficiencies offer. They are preparing to open a new distribution center engineered to incorporate many of the practices ECR defines. And while Mike admits that many leading manufacturers have willingly stepped up to the plate to assist in the ECR effort, an effort initially driven by the manufacturing community, he also takes to task those manufacturers who are demonstrating reluctance at getting deeply involved. Commitment from both sides is critical to success. If the leader of one of the largest food distributors in the world is noting resistance on the part of manufacturers his company does business with, I have to wonder about the cooperation being extended to others who command less market share. While Mike is clearly challenging those who are not showing enthusiasm and dedication to this process, I in turn would challenge the manufacturing community to make sure they work and talk with medium and smaller distributors. I realize that the benefits might not be as dramatic, but sustaining the wholesale-supplied system is crucial in efficiently getting product to the consumer. If the recent words of Mike Wright caused some manufacturers to take pause, I would ask those same manufacturers to look beyond a handful of the largest distributors. If the ECR effort is to be successful, it needs to be inclusive. There is no reason that the benefits of win-win relationships cannot be shared by companies of all sizes.
president National-American Wholesale Grocers' Association/International Foodservice Distributors Association