CPG News & Insights

13 Best Companies Getting Supply Chain Right

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November 30, 2020
Sophie Guimaraes
5 minutes

We all know what a less-than-ideal supply chain looks like: missing orders and sprawling information, poor visibility, too much or too little product due to poor demand planning, bad margins, and other stress-inducing variables. Basically anything that can go wrong, does. 

The KIND Snacks staff. (Image via Facebook)

But what makes a great supply chain? Lean and automated is the trend these days, and for good reason. A single source of truth, combined with a hands-off system, leads to effortless inventory tracking, fewer ordering delays, fewer mistakes, fewer stockouts, and greater visibility, all leading to greater overall consistency in your S&OP process.

And then there’s the higher-level stuff: tailored integrations, low-cost EDI, safeguards against cross-country perishability, fast implementation, and product tracking along the entirety of the supply chain. Most of all, an entrepreneur’s greatest asset is time—second, perhaps, only to money in the bank. Nobody has the time for manual order fulfillment and shipment, let alone siloed data.

From a consumer perspective, how can you tell that your company’s supply chain is working the way it should be? Since your supply chain allows you to ship product on time and in full, customers will trust you, and you’ll get into more doors. Since your supply chain can accommodate high demand and quick changes, you’ll see massive growth. And since your supply chain is flexible and prepared for future demand, your brand can find success even in a time as testing as the current environment.

These brands have survived and thrived because the seeds to their supply chain success were planted long before the world was forced to stay inside. Read on for the tips and tricks of 13 top brands.

Caulipower

Founder Gail Becker describes Caulipower as a company of “never-been-dones”: it’s the first company to take frozen cauliflower pizza crusts to the commercial level, and can be credited with helping spark the wave of cauliflower products that dominate grocery store aisles today. As of February last year, it was America’s 8th top-selling frozen pizza brand, and Caulipower’s uniquely loyal customers helped the company bring in $45M of revenue in 2018 alone.

How they get supply chain right:

  • They have plans to implement more layers of protection in Caulipower’s supply chain to better protect against future crises
  • They leverage e-commerce to sell pizzas and tortillas on Amazon, as well as DTC services such as FreshDirect
  • 20 SKUs in five different categories, all in three years
  • 25,000 retailers across North America as well as 5,000 restaurants, many of which use their products to create plant-based menus


Califia Farms

When it comes to supply chain success, few have weathered the Covid storm better than Califia Farms. Their shelf-stable products helped meet panic buying demand during the initial wave of Covid, and their distinctive product list features over 100 SKUs of drinkable goods—RTD coffee, nut milks, yogurt drinks, and juice—and, most recently, coconut oil-based plant butter.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Califia has a “consistent reputation” with key suppliers and a national network of co-packers, allowing them to build up inventory and get to the front of the manufacturing line
  • They increase resilience by getting secondary suppliers
  • Califia took note of US companies’ supply chain troubles in China last December and—once again—looked ahead, making the pivot toward producing more shelf-stable goods in February 2020
  • Keep their supply chain local with California almonds and are the biggest account for a lot of their suppliers
  • Cultivate direct-sourcing partnerships with farmers, some of which are third-gen and family-owned
  • Founder Greg Steltenpohl on Califia’s positioning in the industry: “Because of some of our expertise in logistics, during the COVID-19 crisis, many mid-size to smaller retailers—who are having trouble being supplied by their main-line distributors—have come to us for help in receiving pallet quantities directly.”


KIND Snacks

We all know KIND, a brand that championed whole ingredients and health-forward snacking in a time when it felt like no one else was doing it (also known as—believe it or not—the mid-2000s). Between starting in 2004 and rising to a household name in 2014, the brand gained 80,000+ distribution points and millions of fans. Along the way, they’ve been committed to creating a supply chain that’s easy to scale.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Former VP Supply Chain Paul Myler championed fostering top-notch supply chain talent, saying in 2018 that he kept it top of mind as his “true north”
  • KIND created a one-stop shop for operations management and differentiating stocking levels based on individual channels
  • They used AFS Technologies’s Trade Promotion Management solution for volume planning and revenue management, as well as Oliver Wight’s tried-and-true S&OP process
  • First CPG company to commit to sourcing almonds from exclusively bee-friendly farms by 2025 and funded a program at UC Davis to monitor the process
  • Complies with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and took the added step of ensuring all suppliers adhere to KIND’s Supplier Code of Conduct


OLIPOP

Consumers know OLIPOP as the brand that’s reinventing soda as we know it. Not only does OLIPOP take away what’s bad about soda—sugar, which they significantly reduce—but they also add ingredients that are entirely uncharacteristic for the category: prebiotics, botanicals, and plant fiber.

How they get supply chain right:

  • OLIPOP plans to strengthen DTC with their $10M series A earlier this year
  • They partnered with distributors such as KeHE, UNFI, and LA Distributing Co.
  • Launched in 2018 out of the Bay Area, and in January 2020 became available at Wegmans and some divisions of Kroger, including QFC and Fred Meyer

Banza

Founded by brothers Brian and Scott Rudolph and launched in late 2014, this chickpea pasta brand has become the fastest-growing pasta brand in the country. They raised a $7.5M Series A and got into 11,000+ doors within two years. Now, they’re the #1 pasta in Whole Foods and Target, and before the pandemic hit, they had planned to move to food service this year. This kind of success doesn’t come easily, and in order to get there, Banza continuously adapted its systems to support rapid growth

How they get supply chain right:

  • Use data to analyze shipping patterns, prioritize retail partners when running low on stock, and focus on what does and does not work on a store-by-store basis
  • Left their co-packer when the results weren’t as good as they wanted them to be; pivoted to doing their own in-house manufacturing at Virginia Park Foods in Riverside, California and saw radical improvement
  • Installed a manufacturing line in 2017 that increased output of short pasta shapes by ten and did the same for long shapes in 2018
  • Received $20M in funding last November to commercialize their product pipeline and grow the Banza team


Hippeas

Hippeas, a line of junk food recreated in chickpea form, has experienced a “meteoric ascent” since its summer 2016 debut. Amidst an established category, Hippeas focused on brand and stood out from the crowd enough early on to nab a nationwide, 11,000-store deal with Starbucks. By 2017, they were bringing in an MRR of $1M, and now? You can find Hippeas in more than 30,000 doors. 

How they get supply chain right:

  • Initial growth trajectory was misaligned with their supply chain capabilities, so they built the brand based on category insights
  • Hired an operations team with the capability to deal with substantial growth
  • Tried and erred—then tried again—through e-commerce platforms like Amazon


Magic Spoon

It’s only been around for just over a year and a half, but Magic Spoon is a disruptor if we’ve ever seen one. The grain-free, high-protein, low-carb, and low-sugar cereal—that tastes just like nostalgic childhood favorites, no less—has found immense success amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. On top of checking the box for pandemic comfort food, the cereal is DTC only with an optimized digital buying experience. Due to a newfound comfort with buying food online and a renewed national health consciousness, the brand has experienced triple-digit growth in Corona times. It’s not just perfectly timely—Magic Spoon has a uniquely effective supply chain. 

How they get supply chain right:

  • DTC = no middleman
  • Manufacture everything in the US, which means the supply chain hasn’t been disrupted because of closed borders overseas
  • Supply chain is so nimble that even though they released a line of mini cereal boxes around the turn of the pandemic, they were able to quickly pivot and crank out full-sized, 4-pack SKUs, as that was what was selling best with consumers stuck at home
  • Since Facebook marketing alone doesn’t quite cut it anymore, Magic Spoon used the leftover cash to bolster their supply chain instead.


Pyure

Established in 2008, Pyure is a unique kind of sweetener. Not only is it stevia and not traditional natural (or artificial) sugar, but Pyure is also committed to using only one strain of stevia—the sweetest kind—for consistent taste across batches. Its dedication to ingredient transparency is definitely something that defines the company, but Pyure takes it a step further with a commitment to humanitarian and earth-friendly practices. With distribution at Whole Foods, Wegman’s, The Vitamin Shoppe, H-E-B, Jewel-Osco, Costco, Walgreen’s Online, and Amazon, the impact is magnified tenfold.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Put a lot of effort into establishing third-party certifications
  • Maintain an intimate relationship with their supplier, which allowed Pyure to be the first products to be produced and shipped after the initial re-opening
  • Attained SQF Level 3—the highest certification—in accordance with the 2012 Food Safety Modernization Act
  • Pride themselves on their “Always Will” promise, which promises single-strain stevia; no chemicals, additives, or artificial processing; sustainability; donation of proceeds to diabetes education, among other causes; and to never sell products made with “big sugar”
  • Leverage retail forecasting to create a bifurcated business model in which farms and raw material suppliers are contracted on longer lead times, which stabilizes price and supply of product
  • Passed through the worst of Covid with flying colors, using safety stock to keep their commercial customers fully stocked
  • Test DNA throughout the supply chain to make sure that the corn they use to produce erythritol is non-GMO
  • Manufactured and processed in the United States


Chobani

Recently named by Fast Company as one of CPG’s most innovative companies, Chobani has so much cultural resonance that it’s hard to believe it was established only in 2005. Despite its successful supply chain, Chobani has a different story from the rest of the brands on this list. It didn’t build up logistics teams to match the growth, and at the beginning of its ascent, supply reliability wasn’t a chief concern due to lack of market competition. Pre-2010s, Chobani was slow to move towards digitization, and consequently, the Greek yogurt empire was almost taken down by supply chain struggles in the mid-2010s. They even had to throw out $76M of faulty product from an Idaho plant in 2017. The savior? An integrated digital supply chain.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Negotiated better prices for raw materials and reduced waste
  • Eliminated siloes by prioritizing constant daily communication
  • As they grew, they kept adding on new systems instead of expanding or replacing what they already had
  • Chobani’s Chief Information Officer, Parag Agrawal, overhauled Chobani’s old-tech roadblocks in 2017
  • Used SAP’s ERP system S/4HANA, which went live July 2019
  • Partners with Fair Trade USA to protect workers and their benefits


OWYN

OWYN (Only What You Need) is exactly that—a plant-based protein drink developed by former athletes and free of the top eight allergens. OWYN served a need that no other company did, so it’s no surprise that their customers are intensely loyal: in 2019, they saw a repeat purchase rate of 35%, and the revenue grew from $0 to $6M in 10 months alone. OWYN’s $10M in first-year revenue far surpassed its$1-2M initial goal. Their success starts at the top, with a leadership team was sourced from Bai Brands, Muscle Milk, and Pretzel Crisps, and an investment from Halen Brands added 5 management team members in late 2017.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Established itself as a vital consumer need regardless of testing, steadfast in their mission and identity
  • Operate out of 4 co-packers and 2 distribution centers
  • Gained Walgreens and Wegmens circulation in late 2018, and then CVS, Target, and Publix in 2020
  • Recently expanded placements in Sprouts, Whole Foods, and VitaminShoppe
  • Initial partnership with Halen Brands led them to implement the Clearlake O.P.S.® framework, and the strategic team recruitment and sales organization that came from that allowed them to scale quickly


General Mills

It’s hard to imagine the American food industry without General Mills, whose brands include Cheerios, Yoplait, Cascadian Farms, and Annie’s Homegrown. On top of its huge social influence, though, General Mills sets the example for CPG mammoths in terms of sourcing third parties to bolster supply chain, which is likely to be the new normal for big brands until next summer at least.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Ramped up processing capabilities due to high demand associated with Covid
  • Works with industry partners and agencies to get a 360-degree view of solutions
  • Operates 47 global production facilities, 24 of which are in the United States
  • Company culture is so strong that when office employees had the option to volunteer in manufacturing plants, 700 extra people helped out with the supply chain on the ground
  • When Covid struck, GM created new partnerships with manufacturers and raw material suppliers in order to keep its supply chain afloat
  • Sources 20% of ingredients from smallholder farmers in developing countries and puts money toward on-the-ground community efforts to build a sustainable economy
  • Leaders in the AIM-PROGRESS Responsible Sourcing Forum to promote responsible sourcing and human rights within the supply chain
  • Isolated 10 priority ingredients to make more sustainable: “wheat, oats, palm oil, vanilla, cocoa, corn, dairy, eggs, fiber packaging and sugar (sugar beets and sugarcane).”
  • Anticipate demand in advance, and considers factors like pack sizes and flavors when manufacturing to ensure demand will be accurately filled
  • “Soup is one example. The company before COVID-19 could have as many as 90 stock-keeping units of soup at one time. We might be making half of those and then really giving our customers what we can afford to give them”


Spindrift

Spindrift is yet another disruptor on this list, making space for itself in the age-old seltzer category with its triple filtration and freshly squeezed fruit flavoring. It’s sparkling water with real juice, real pulp, real color. Most of the retail partners Spindrift has today said no to them initially, but the brand’s persistence and innovation has made it one of the fastest growing companies in CPG; between 2016 and 2018, sales increased by 800%.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Spindrift has had to more or less carve out a new supply chain. Founder Bill Creelman says, “It's literally required an investment in supply chain. First we had to find all that fresh juice, then we had to set the plants up so they could handle all that fresh juice, and then we had to make it shelf stable so it was commercially viable. So that's become kind of my life's work.”
  • Raised $29.8M in funding earlier this year to bolster supply chain efforts
  • Use AI-powered demand planning technology to stay ahead of the curve
  • Work far upstream in the supply chain with the farmers who grow the fruit they use
  • Plan for the disruptions that may come with working with smallholders by working “often years ahead to look at crop cycles and resulting availability.”

Procter & Gamble

If there’s any company that’s known for its supply chain, it’s CPG behemoth Procter & Gamble—research firm Gartner ranked it among the top 5 supply chain companies in the world as of May 2020. It’s such a prolific company that you undoubtedly have at least one of their brands (Secret, Crest, Dawn, Vicks, Herbal Essences, the list goes on) in your home. The Covid pandemic has been a tall ask of them—given that many of their product lines revolve around hygiene and cleanliness, so there’s been unprecedented demand—but thanks to their robust supply chain, P&G rose to the occasion.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Engage different demand planning processes for different products; demand planning for Tide can happen multiple times a day, whereas demand planning for Oral-B can happen a few times a month
  • Create business plans of two to three years in collaboration with business partners to identify and deliver on actionable goals
  • Anticipated and dealt with crises in the past: 2017’s Hurricane Irma forced them to pivot. P&G checked which business partners were in the path of the storm and strategically moved inventory so it could be available after the crisis subsided
  • Trades inventory for visibility and speed. Their mixing centers are flow-through—goods go in and out without being stored
  • Extended S&OP process to Global Distributor Markets (GDM), which covers smaller countries in which P&G does not operate their own sales
  • Supplier relationship management (SRM) is a focus: P&G works from the top down to enforce clarity and good communication, putting strong leaders in place that can weather the relationship shifts caused by personnel changes or miscommunication

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Case Studies

13 Best Companies Getting Supply Chain Right

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Category

Location

We all know what a less-than-ideal supply chain looks like: missing orders and sprawling information, poor visibility, too much or too little product due to poor demand planning, bad margins, and other stress-inducing variables. Basically anything that can go wrong, does. 

The KIND Snacks staff. (Image via Facebook)

But what makes a great supply chain? Lean and automated is the trend these days, and for good reason. A single source of truth, combined with a hands-off system, leads to effortless inventory tracking, fewer ordering delays, fewer mistakes, fewer stockouts, and greater visibility, all leading to greater overall consistency in your S&OP process.

And then there’s the higher-level stuff: tailored integrations, low-cost EDI, safeguards against cross-country perishability, fast implementation, and product tracking along the entirety of the supply chain. Most of all, an entrepreneur’s greatest asset is time—second, perhaps, only to money in the bank. Nobody has the time for manual order fulfillment and shipment, let alone siloed data.

From a consumer perspective, how can you tell that your company’s supply chain is working the way it should be? Since your supply chain allows you to ship product on time and in full, customers will trust you, and you’ll get into more doors. Since your supply chain can accommodate high demand and quick changes, you’ll see massive growth. And since your supply chain is flexible and prepared for future demand, your brand can find success even in a time as testing as the current environment.

These brands have survived and thrived because the seeds to their supply chain success were planted long before the world was forced to stay inside. Read on for the tips and tricks of 13 top brands.

Caulipower

Founder Gail Becker describes Caulipower as a company of “never-been-dones”: it’s the first company to take frozen cauliflower pizza crusts to the commercial level, and can be credited with helping spark the wave of cauliflower products that dominate grocery store aisles today. As of February last year, it was America’s 8th top-selling frozen pizza brand, and Caulipower’s uniquely loyal customers helped the company bring in $45M of revenue in 2018 alone.

How they get supply chain right:

  • They have plans to implement more layers of protection in Caulipower’s supply chain to better protect against future crises
  • They leverage e-commerce to sell pizzas and tortillas on Amazon, as well as DTC services such as FreshDirect
  • 20 SKUs in five different categories, all in three years
  • 25,000 retailers across North America as well as 5,000 restaurants, many of which use their products to create plant-based menus


Califia Farms

When it comes to supply chain success, few have weathered the Covid storm better than Califia Farms. Their shelf-stable products helped meet panic buying demand during the initial wave of Covid, and their distinctive product list features over 100 SKUs of drinkable goods—RTD coffee, nut milks, yogurt drinks, and juice—and, most recently, coconut oil-based plant butter.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Califia has a “consistent reputation” with key suppliers and a national network of co-packers, allowing them to build up inventory and get to the front of the manufacturing line
  • They increase resilience by getting secondary suppliers
  • Califia took note of US companies’ supply chain troubles in China last December and—once again—looked ahead, making the pivot toward producing more shelf-stable goods in February 2020
  • Keep their supply chain local with California almonds and are the biggest account for a lot of their suppliers
  • Cultivate direct-sourcing partnerships with farmers, some of which are third-gen and family-owned
  • Founder Greg Steltenpohl on Califia’s positioning in the industry: “Because of some of our expertise in logistics, during the COVID-19 crisis, many mid-size to smaller retailers—who are having trouble being supplied by their main-line distributors—have come to us for help in receiving pallet quantities directly.”


KIND Snacks

We all know KIND, a brand that championed whole ingredients and health-forward snacking in a time when it felt like no one else was doing it (also known as—believe it or not—the mid-2000s). Between starting in 2004 and rising to a household name in 2014, the brand gained 80,000+ distribution points and millions of fans. Along the way, they’ve been committed to creating a supply chain that’s easy to scale.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Former VP Supply Chain Paul Myler championed fostering top-notch supply chain talent, saying in 2018 that he kept it top of mind as his “true north”
  • KIND created a one-stop shop for operations management and differentiating stocking levels based on individual channels
  • They used AFS Technologies’s Trade Promotion Management solution for volume planning and revenue management, as well as Oliver Wight’s tried-and-true S&OP process
  • First CPG company to commit to sourcing almonds from exclusively bee-friendly farms by 2025 and funded a program at UC Davis to monitor the process
  • Complies with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and took the added step of ensuring all suppliers adhere to KIND’s Supplier Code of Conduct


OLIPOP

Consumers know OLIPOP as the brand that’s reinventing soda as we know it. Not only does OLIPOP take away what’s bad about soda—sugar, which they significantly reduce—but they also add ingredients that are entirely uncharacteristic for the category: prebiotics, botanicals, and plant fiber.

How they get supply chain right:

  • OLIPOP plans to strengthen DTC with their $10M series A earlier this year
  • They partnered with distributors such as KeHE, UNFI, and LA Distributing Co.
  • Launched in 2018 out of the Bay Area, and in January 2020 became available at Wegmans and some divisions of Kroger, including QFC and Fred Meyer

Banza

Founded by brothers Brian and Scott Rudolph and launched in late 2014, this chickpea pasta brand has become the fastest-growing pasta brand in the country. They raised a $7.5M Series A and got into 11,000+ doors within two years. Now, they’re the #1 pasta in Whole Foods and Target, and before the pandemic hit, they had planned to move to food service this year. This kind of success doesn’t come easily, and in order to get there, Banza continuously adapted its systems to support rapid growth

How they get supply chain right:

  • Use data to analyze shipping patterns, prioritize retail partners when running low on stock, and focus on what does and does not work on a store-by-store basis
  • Left their co-packer when the results weren’t as good as they wanted them to be; pivoted to doing their own in-house manufacturing at Virginia Park Foods in Riverside, California and saw radical improvement
  • Installed a manufacturing line in 2017 that increased output of short pasta shapes by ten and did the same for long shapes in 2018
  • Received $20M in funding last November to commercialize their product pipeline and grow the Banza team


Hippeas

Hippeas, a line of junk food recreated in chickpea form, has experienced a “meteoric ascent” since its summer 2016 debut. Amidst an established category, Hippeas focused on brand and stood out from the crowd enough early on to nab a nationwide, 11,000-store deal with Starbucks. By 2017, they were bringing in an MRR of $1M, and now? You can find Hippeas in more than 30,000 doors. 

How they get supply chain right:

  • Initial growth trajectory was misaligned with their supply chain capabilities, so they built the brand based on category insights
  • Hired an operations team with the capability to deal with substantial growth
  • Tried and erred—then tried again—through e-commerce platforms like Amazon


Magic Spoon

It’s only been around for just over a year and a half, but Magic Spoon is a disruptor if we’ve ever seen one. The grain-free, high-protein, low-carb, and low-sugar cereal—that tastes just like nostalgic childhood favorites, no less—has found immense success amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. On top of checking the box for pandemic comfort food, the cereal is DTC only with an optimized digital buying experience. Due to a newfound comfort with buying food online and a renewed national health consciousness, the brand has experienced triple-digit growth in Corona times. It’s not just perfectly timely—Magic Spoon has a uniquely effective supply chain. 

How they get supply chain right:

  • DTC = no middleman
  • Manufacture everything in the US, which means the supply chain hasn’t been disrupted because of closed borders overseas
  • Supply chain is so nimble that even though they released a line of mini cereal boxes around the turn of the pandemic, they were able to quickly pivot and crank out full-sized, 4-pack SKUs, as that was what was selling best with consumers stuck at home
  • Since Facebook marketing alone doesn’t quite cut it anymore, Magic Spoon used the leftover cash to bolster their supply chain instead.


Pyure

Established in 2008, Pyure is a unique kind of sweetener. Not only is it stevia and not traditional natural (or artificial) sugar, but Pyure is also committed to using only one strain of stevia—the sweetest kind—for consistent taste across batches. Its dedication to ingredient transparency is definitely something that defines the company, but Pyure takes it a step further with a commitment to humanitarian and earth-friendly practices. With distribution at Whole Foods, Wegman’s, The Vitamin Shoppe, H-E-B, Jewel-Osco, Costco, Walgreen’s Online, and Amazon, the impact is magnified tenfold.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Put a lot of effort into establishing third-party certifications
  • Maintain an intimate relationship with their supplier, which allowed Pyure to be the first products to be produced and shipped after the initial re-opening
  • Attained SQF Level 3—the highest certification—in accordance with the 2012 Food Safety Modernization Act
  • Pride themselves on their “Always Will” promise, which promises single-strain stevia; no chemicals, additives, or artificial processing; sustainability; donation of proceeds to diabetes education, among other causes; and to never sell products made with “big sugar”
  • Leverage retail forecasting to create a bifurcated business model in which farms and raw material suppliers are contracted on longer lead times, which stabilizes price and supply of product
  • Passed through the worst of Covid with flying colors, using safety stock to keep their commercial customers fully stocked
  • Test DNA throughout the supply chain to make sure that the corn they use to produce erythritol is non-GMO
  • Manufactured and processed in the United States


Chobani

Recently named by Fast Company as one of CPG’s most innovative companies, Chobani has so much cultural resonance that it’s hard to believe it was established only in 2005. Despite its successful supply chain, Chobani has a different story from the rest of the brands on this list. It didn’t build up logistics teams to match the growth, and at the beginning of its ascent, supply reliability wasn’t a chief concern due to lack of market competition. Pre-2010s, Chobani was slow to move towards digitization, and consequently, the Greek yogurt empire was almost taken down by supply chain struggles in the mid-2010s. They even had to throw out $76M of faulty product from an Idaho plant in 2017. The savior? An integrated digital supply chain.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Negotiated better prices for raw materials and reduced waste
  • Eliminated siloes by prioritizing constant daily communication
  • As they grew, they kept adding on new systems instead of expanding or replacing what they already had
  • Chobani’s Chief Information Officer, Parag Agrawal, overhauled Chobani’s old-tech roadblocks in 2017
  • Used SAP’s ERP system S/4HANA, which went live July 2019
  • Partners with Fair Trade USA to protect workers and their benefits


OWYN

OWYN (Only What You Need) is exactly that—a plant-based protein drink developed by former athletes and free of the top eight allergens. OWYN served a need that no other company did, so it’s no surprise that their customers are intensely loyal: in 2019, they saw a repeat purchase rate of 35%, and the revenue grew from $0 to $6M in 10 months alone. OWYN’s $10M in first-year revenue far surpassed its$1-2M initial goal. Their success starts at the top, with a leadership team was sourced from Bai Brands, Muscle Milk, and Pretzel Crisps, and an investment from Halen Brands added 5 management team members in late 2017.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Established itself as a vital consumer need regardless of testing, steadfast in their mission and identity
  • Operate out of 4 co-packers and 2 distribution centers
  • Gained Walgreens and Wegmens circulation in late 2018, and then CVS, Target, and Publix in 2020
  • Recently expanded placements in Sprouts, Whole Foods, and VitaminShoppe
  • Initial partnership with Halen Brands led them to implement the Clearlake O.P.S.® framework, and the strategic team recruitment and sales organization that came from that allowed them to scale quickly


General Mills

It’s hard to imagine the American food industry without General Mills, whose brands include Cheerios, Yoplait, Cascadian Farms, and Annie’s Homegrown. On top of its huge social influence, though, General Mills sets the example for CPG mammoths in terms of sourcing third parties to bolster supply chain, which is likely to be the new normal for big brands until next summer at least.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Ramped up processing capabilities due to high demand associated with Covid
  • Works with industry partners and agencies to get a 360-degree view of solutions
  • Operates 47 global production facilities, 24 of which are in the United States
  • Company culture is so strong that when office employees had the option to volunteer in manufacturing plants, 700 extra people helped out with the supply chain on the ground
  • When Covid struck, GM created new partnerships with manufacturers and raw material suppliers in order to keep its supply chain afloat
  • Sources 20% of ingredients from smallholder farmers in developing countries and puts money toward on-the-ground community efforts to build a sustainable economy
  • Leaders in the AIM-PROGRESS Responsible Sourcing Forum to promote responsible sourcing and human rights within the supply chain
  • Isolated 10 priority ingredients to make more sustainable: “wheat, oats, palm oil, vanilla, cocoa, corn, dairy, eggs, fiber packaging and sugar (sugar beets and sugarcane).”
  • Anticipate demand in advance, and considers factors like pack sizes and flavors when manufacturing to ensure demand will be accurately filled
  • “Soup is one example. The company before COVID-19 could have as many as 90 stock-keeping units of soup at one time. We might be making half of those and then really giving our customers what we can afford to give them”


Spindrift

Spindrift is yet another disruptor on this list, making space for itself in the age-old seltzer category with its triple filtration and freshly squeezed fruit flavoring. It’s sparkling water with real juice, real pulp, real color. Most of the retail partners Spindrift has today said no to them initially, but the brand’s persistence and innovation has made it one of the fastest growing companies in CPG; between 2016 and 2018, sales increased by 800%.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Spindrift has had to more or less carve out a new supply chain. Founder Bill Creelman says, “It's literally required an investment in supply chain. First we had to find all that fresh juice, then we had to set the plants up so they could handle all that fresh juice, and then we had to make it shelf stable so it was commercially viable. So that's become kind of my life's work.”
  • Raised $29.8M in funding earlier this year to bolster supply chain efforts
  • Use AI-powered demand planning technology to stay ahead of the curve
  • Work far upstream in the supply chain with the farmers who grow the fruit they use
  • Plan for the disruptions that may come with working with smallholders by working “often years ahead to look at crop cycles and resulting availability.”

Procter & Gamble

If there’s any company that’s known for its supply chain, it’s CPG behemoth Procter & Gamble—research firm Gartner ranked it among the top 5 supply chain companies in the world as of May 2020. It’s such a prolific company that you undoubtedly have at least one of their brands (Secret, Crest, Dawn, Vicks, Herbal Essences, the list goes on) in your home. The Covid pandemic has been a tall ask of them—given that many of their product lines revolve around hygiene and cleanliness, so there’s been unprecedented demand—but thanks to their robust supply chain, P&G rose to the occasion.

How they get supply chain right:

  • Engage different demand planning processes for different products; demand planning for Tide can happen multiple times a day, whereas demand planning for Oral-B can happen a few times a month
  • Create business plans of two to three years in collaboration with business partners to identify and deliver on actionable goals
  • Anticipated and dealt with crises in the past: 2017’s Hurricane Irma forced them to pivot. P&G checked which business partners were in the path of the storm and strategically moved inventory so it could be available after the crisis subsided
  • Trades inventory for visibility and speed. Their mixing centers are flow-through—goods go in and out without being stored
  • Extended S&OP process to Global Distributor Markets (GDM), which covers smaller countries in which P&G does not operate their own sales
  • Supplier relationship management (SRM) is a focus: P&G works from the top down to enforce clarity and good communication, putting strong leaders in place that can weather the relationship shifts caused by personnel changes or miscommunication
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