Monday, October 10, 2005

Libby's, Libby's, Libby's

Aw, come on, sing it with me: "When it says Liby's Libby's Libby's on the label, label, label, you will like it, like it, like it, on your table, table, table." Now you all know how old I really am!
That jingle was popular for years through the seventies.

Today I have some Libby's news to share. Not alarming news but news none the less.

Libby's Libby's Libby's

This little can of pure pumpkin puree may be in short supply this season. I read a comment on another forum that indicated a shortage. A distributor was only able to secure two pallets of pumpkin for the entire season. There are several reasons he could have had problems securing additional pallets.

One, and probably the biggest reason is that he didn't book his purchase soon enough. This happens all the time. Libby's just like other purveyors are in the business of selling their product. If you book early, you are guaranteed your product. If you hesitate, and wait to place a firm 'buy' you're at the mercy of your supplier. Libby's pumpkin is responsible for 50 million pies a year! The pumpkin needs to be sold, and if you can't get off the dime and place an order, you'll get the "you snooze, you lose" response from a supplier. This kind of hesitancy also drives prices up for the buyer. Pumpkin will be available, at what price, however?

The second reason is an actual shortage of pumpkin. Pumpkin is an organic product. All kinds of problems exist in the cultivation of produce. Early freeze, lack of water, too much water, infestations, you name it. There could have been a crop failure that would affect supply. In this case the buyers are encouraged to get their firm orders in early, and even still, they may be allocated a perentage of their request. When you deal in a product that is subject to acts of nature, there is always a chance that there could be a crop failure at any time. Suppliers will work with you to get a portion of your needs, but a history of buying from them will reign supreme. An established account will always get preference, even if you are a small time buyer. If you have a good buying history with a supplier, you have a good chance of having something set aside for you in the event of a problem crop.

Third a "short-term" shortage could be caused by transportation problems or weather related shipping issues. A shipment that was expected in early September, could be delayed for six to eight weeks due to these types of problems. Once I had a railcar full of canned corn blanks shipping from Idaho to Wisconsin to be labeled. It disappeared from the radar screen. No one could tell me where it went. This was in early September. In March the following year, after the spring thatw, they found my corn. The rail car had fallen off the train while the train went too fast around a bend. My railcar was found at the bottom of a ravine. The canned corn was found, but delays in shipment occurred!

Communication is the key. Knowing your suppliers, keeping abreast of their situation and having a good rapport with them cannot be overstated.

So, back to the shortage. I don't know all the details why this guy couldn't get more pumpkin, but, I still ran down to my local store and bought the last five cans they had on the shelf!