In the not-too-distant future, technology will reveal everything about products, and expose all the supply chain deficiencies that exist.
Smartphones, embedded with the technology that enables consumers to scan items in the supermarket and see the entire supply chain process, will happen sooner rather than later, according to Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand CEO, Molly Harriss Olsen.
“We’re getting to the point that we can build these technologies. Mark my words, it’s on the way and it will be instantaneous. The world of connectivity isn’t coming – it’s here,” she told the room.
Cleaning Up Supply Chains
While the procurement industry well and truly knows about the challenges of cleaning up the supply chain, the fact that the technology that would automatically expose supply chain deficiencies was met by furrowed brows. As she made the statement, you could literally hear a pin drop in the large conference room.
Fairtrade assists marginalised producers (mostly in the agricultural space) and addresses issues like child labour, environmental issues, water usage, waste management, ensuring the employment of women and helping these farmers to have profitability in their farms and a robust foundation upon which they can succeed.
This includes the 30 million coffee farmers around the world who are at the mercy of speculative financial markets.
She impressed on the procurement professionals in the room that they had the power in their hands to either resolve the problems the planet faces in the future, or contribute to it.
“The biggest leadership decision you need to make as a procurement leader is implementation. Once you make that, you can’t even begin to imagine what the impact might be.”
Moving Away From Economics
Harriss Olsen was asked by a major Australian food brand representative, whether Australian businesses were embracing the initiatives implemented by Fairtrade.
“On the whole, I’d say we’re on the edge of embracing it. I’d urge you to take the next step. We need to stop making every decision based on economic grounds. We are either part of the solution, or we’re part of the problem. All our decisions are based on improving the planet. Virtually everything we can buy is traded on the stock market, and value the farmer gets on a daily basis,” she says.
“It might come as a surprise to you that while we got rid of slavery some time ago, there is still an extraordinary amount of it going on today. And until is blows up in your face, you often don’t know what you’re dealing with it.”