Disruption Report #22: Freight at the Speed of Sound, UnVaccinated Seafarers and Dollar Tree Fights Inflation

UnVaccinated Seafarers a Threat to Shipping

It’s not only landlubbers who are slow to get vaccinated. Merchant ship sailors are not getting immunized in sufficient numbers, a worrying trend for a global supply chain that is already reeling. Here is how K Oanh Ha, Ann Koh, and Claire Jiao put it in their Bloomberg article, “Slow Vaccines for Seafarers Threaten to Worsen Shipping Chaos:”

Global vaccinations of seafarers are going too slowly to prevent outbreaks on ships from causing more trade disruptions, endangering maritime workers and potentially slowing economies trying to pull out of pandemic slowdowns.

It seems that it is a sailor’s home country that is responsible for their being vaccinated. Many seafarers come from third-world countries with limited amounts of vaccine, and a weak medical infrastructure able to deliver it.

Only 35,000 to 40,000 or 2.5% of the world’s seafarers have received vaccinations. That means that 1,365,000 to 1,560,000 are currently at risk.

Moving Freight at the Speed of Sound

In the not too distant future, we may be moving freight at supersonic speeds. That’s according to an article by Loz Blain in The New Atlas entitled, “HyperPort would fire shipping containers around at transonic speeds.”

You may be familiar with the hyperloop, a floating pod that carries passengers through a tunnel near the speed of sound. Both Elon Musk and Richard Branson have been developing systems with Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop operating a prototype with passengers.

The Hyperport is the same concept, but it moves freight instead of people. In fact, the proposed project by Hyperloop Transport Technologies can move the equivalent of 2800 containers a day, covering hundreds of miles in minutes.

With truckers aging out and shipping times taking longer, it’s an idea whose time has come.

How Dollar Tree Is Managing Inflation, What We Can Learn.

Dollar Tree is a powerhouse when it comes to “Everything Is a Dollar” retailing. The last few decades of low inflation have provided the perfect environment for the company to grow its business.

Yet, in times like these of increasing inflation, challenging exchange rates, and exorbitant freight rates, how can they sustain their business model?

In part, they are not. There is, however, much more Dollar Tree is doing (more on that later in the article). That is what I learned after reading an excellent piece by Wall Street Journal writer Sarah Nassauer. The article, “How Dollar Tree Sells Nearly Everything for $1, Even When Inflation Lurks,” tells us that the retailer is reducing its packaging and moving to bigger case packs to save on freight.

And yes, they are experimenting with products that retail for over $1. Interestingly, they are also co-locating their Dollar Tree stores with their Family Dollar Stores which have very low prices but have never confined themselves to any one price point.

Critics have in the past criticized Dollar Tree management for its 2015 purchase of Family Dollar. Now that profit is under pressure in the Dollar Tree stores, that acquisition looks a lot better.

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