I’m back after a quick family vacation to New Orleans. The trip was amazing, as we experienced a zipline swamp tour, a second line parade on our street, the opportunity to see the greatest clarinet player in the world (Doreen Ketchens), as well as a full culinary tour of the city. While it was a bit tough to jump right back into the swing of work, I saw an interesting article about workplace conditions when I got back. The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) releases the list of Dirty Dozen unsafe employers as part of its observance of Workers’ Memorial Week, which takes place this year from April 23 through April 30th. This event, observed in the U.S. and worldwide, honors workers who have become sick, injured, or lost their lives on the job. The National COSH also recognizes the impact these preventable events have on family members. The National COSH defines the Dirty Dozen as the companies that “needlessly expose workers to preventable hazards, leading to preventable illnesses, injuries and fatalities.” The Dirty Dozen, in alphabetical order, are: Amazon, Atlantic Coast Utilities/Laurence Moloney, Daikin America, Dollar General, Ernst Nursery and Farms, Foundation Food Group/Gold Creek Foods, Hilton Hotels, Kingspan Light and Air, Liox Cleaners/Wash Supply Laundromat, Mayfield Consumer Products, Refresco, and Starbucks. And now on to this week’s logistics news.
- Ground parcel delivery costs reach record high as rate hikes take hold
- Sysco is making strides on its electric vehicle commitment
- Supermarkets run out of peppers after cold snap in Spain
- Ports on West and East coasts show sharp decline
- Walmart+ to hold month-long membership giveaway for new moms
- Solar-powered warehouse rooftops could power nearly 19.4M US homes
- 8 retailers keeping Earth Day alive through a commitment to sustainability
Ground parcel delivery costs reached a record high in Q1, although pricing discounts from carriers softened the blow, according to the TD Cowen/AFS Freight Index. The portion of the index tracking ground parcel rates per package in Q1 was 29.5 percent above its January 2018 baseline, up from 25.2 percent for Q4. Annual rate hikes taking hold and fuel surcharges not declining as sharply as fuel price indices over the past year contributed to the higher costs. Average ground parcel discounts increasing by 1.6 percent helped prevent costs from climbing even higher, a news release noted. This suggests carriers had to raise shipper discounts to mitigate the impacts of rate hikes. FedEx and UPS enacted higher rate increases for 2023 versus the previous year, which they attributed in part to inflationary pressures. This has added further pressure to shippers’ parcel delivery spend, already strained by the various delivery surcharges enacted in recent years.
Sysco wants to add 2,800 electric vehicles to its U.S. fleet by 2030 and is building infrastructure to support that commitment. To that end, the food distributor is transforming its distribution center in Riverside, Calif., into an electric vehicle hub. Once completed, the facility will house 40 dual-port DC fast-charging stations, 40 electric vehicles and 40 electric refrigerated trailers. Currently, Sysco operates 11 electric-powered tractors at its Riverside facility and expects to deploy 20 total by this summer, according to a press release. The Riverside site will also feature 4 Megawatt hours of battery storage and increase its solar power generation by 1.5 Megawatts. This move toward electric vehicles also supports Sysco’s goal of reducing its direct emissions by 27.5 percent by 2030. The company plans to do so, in part, by electrifying 35 percent of its U.S. tractor fleet and sourcing 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, according to the press release.
Some UK supermarkets have run out of peppers after a cold snap in Europe led to a shortage. Unseasonably cold weather in Spain slowed down the growing of peppers, leading to Morrisons limiting purchases to two per customer. The supermarket said it was hoping to lift the cap in the next week or so because supplies were improving. Waitrose has also been hit by supply problems. It said it was working hard with suppliers to get a full range back on shelves and expected stock levels to stabilize in the coming weeks as the UK moved into its growing season. British supermarkets source peppers exclusively from Spain during the winter months. Supermarkets were forced to ration a range of fruit and vegetables earlier this year due to poor weather in Europe and Africa leading to shortages. Shoppers started seeing shortages of tomatoes on about February 20, with retailers saying a combination of bad weather and related transport issues in north Africa and Europe were causing significant supply problems. The shortages spread to other products, leaving shelves bare of fresh produce items including cucumbers, peppers and lettuce.
A steep, across-the-board decline in imported cargo, exports and empty containers during March dropped volumes at several major ports to levels not seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Port of Los Angeles processed 623,233 20-foot-equivalent containers, down 35 percent from last year’s 958,674. The adjacent Port of Long Beach also saw a significant decline in container volume in March. That was primarily due to retailers working on emptying warehouses of older inventory and shippers continuing to move more freight to East Coast ports because of concerns over the slow pace of labor talks between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Long Beach saw a 30 percent decline from 2022 as the port processed 603,878 containers compared with 863,156.
In observance of Mother’s Day, Walmart will give away up to 20,000 free one-year Walmart+ memberships totaling nearly $2 million in value to new moms as part of the new Mother of All Savings Memberships campaign. The memberships, valued at $98 each, will go to moms who give birth in hospitals nationwide during the month of May. The giveaway will be held in conjunction with the Pampers Hospital Gift Program, which provides a gift bag for patients who have recently had a baby. This May, each gift bag will contain a reusable fabric bag, coupons, a Pampers Sensitive Wipes 6-count sample, information on newborns and, while supplies last, a free one-year Walmart+ membership. The Mother of All Savings Memberships campaign will also feature celebrity moms Cardi B, Stephanie Beatriz, Janelle James and Jenny Slate sharing their ultimate motherhood hacks.
If the rooftops of American warehouses were all bedecked with solar panels, these buildings would generate enough solar energy to power almost 19.4 million U.S. households each year, a new report has found. There are more than 450,000 such warehouses nationwide, with nearly 16.4 billion cumulative square feet of flat, sunny rooftop space — or about twice the area of Memphis, Tenn., according to the report, which was released Thursday by the Environment California Research & Policy Center and the Frontier Group. The rooftops of medium and large warehouses built before 2019 could produce 185.6 terawatt-hours of solar electricity annually — with the greatest potential in California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Georgia, per the report. Generating the full 185.6 terawatt-hours of solar power would eliminate more than 112 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, the report found. This would be equivalent to removing more than 24 million gasoline-fueled passenger vehicles from the road each year.
And finally, on Earth Day, April 22, the world comes together to celebrate the beauty of our planet’s nature and wildlife. Earth Day also recognizes the history of the modern environmental movement and is a reminder of the commitment we hold to protect and preserve our planet. This month, NRF is highlighting member retailers that have integrated a dedication to meeting the needs of consumers with the needs of the planet.
- Since the launch of its recycling program in 2009, Best Buy has recycled over 2 billion pounds of electronics and appliances. The company is also committing to being an entirely carbon neutral company by 2040.
- Levi Strauss & Co is committed to sustainability across three key pillars: climate, consumption and community. Focused on creating products designed to last for generations, the Levi’s brand is urging consumers to be more intentional about their purchasing decisions and to look for ways to rewear, repurpose, and hold on to their clothes while minimizing their own impact across areas like carbon emissions and water use.
- In 2022, Publix recycled over 100 million pounds of materials. Its stores are designed with sustainability in mind — utilizing lighting, refrigeration and energy efficient systems and technology. Publix also offers opportunities for customers to engage in sustainable habits while they shop, with electric vehicle charging stations, recycling areas and pharmacy recycling.
- REI is a founding member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which provides companies with a framework for understanding and improving the sustainability of their products and operations. REI members can reduce their own product waste by taking advantage of the co-op’s trade-in and resale programs.
- Starbucks is renowned for its long-time commitment to people and the planet. Furthering its mission to make coffee the first sustainably sourced agricultural product, 99 percent of Starbucks coffee is ethically sourced. Starbucks’ efforts to preserve the planet continue into every aspect of its business, from farming to physical storefronts all around the world.
- TOMS Shoes is well known for being a purpose-driven organization, with its mission revolving around positively impacting communities and the planet. By 2025, the company plans to increase its engagement in sustainable sourcing, manufacturing and business practices, achieving five sustainability goals including sourcing of 100% sustainable cotton.
- ThredUp has re-invigorated resale in a digital landscape, bringing the thrift shop directly to the consumer. With the core of its strategy centered around creating a sustainable future for fashion, ThredUp has intertwined ESG practices into the selling and buying experiences of a new generation of consumers.
- Ulta Beauty, the largest beauty retailer in the United States, has rapidly expanded its sustainability efforts, re-evaluating its product offering and partnerships to provide cleaner and greener options for its customers. Last year, Ulta joined the Sustainability Consortium, whose mission is to guide retailers to create more sustainable products and business practices and build connections with peers and experts.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.