Supply Chain Management: Inflation may be next looming threat says study

According to new research from the Hackett Group, a global strategic business advisory firm, global expansion has been the greatest deflationary power in history

By ·

Rising prices and other inflationary pressure could reduce corporate profits by up to 9 percent in 2011 and 2012, according to new research from the Hackett Group, a global strategic business advisory firm.

For a typical company with $27.8 billion in revenue, Hackett’s study estimated that commodity and offshore labor inflation could drive a $150 million/year hit to the bottom line. Hackett’s study found new warning signs of inflation on the horizon, said Hackett Chief Research Officer Michel Janssen in an interview with LM’s sister publication, Supply Chain Management Review.

“Global expansion has been the greatest deflationary power in history,” said Janssen. “Now the U.S. is importing inflation.”

According to the study – which polled executives at large global corporations – the recent inflation of commodity prices is likely to increase significantly over the next 12 months and be acompanied by by rising inflation in internal labor costs and external services.

Companies in the study reported that they will pass half of these additional costs onto their buyers but the other half of these costs will need to be absorbed by their organization. In addition, while most companies in the Hackett study say they can effectively anticipate commodity price increases, more than 60 percent say they have not been successful at mitigating these costs. Part of the challenge is that few of today’s executives have experienced significant inflation, last seen in 1981, so organizations are having to learn how to best manage inflation challenges all over again.??

Companies are already feeling the effect of rising commodity prices, and have seen commodity prices increase by nearly 5 percent over the past year, according to the Hackett study. Key commodities like crude oil and metals have risen dramatically, with some prices more than doubling over the past two years. Commodity price volatility is also a major factor, having increased by nearly 60 percent since before the recent recession, according to Hackett’s research.??

But in the next 12 months, companies in the Hackett study said they expect the rate of inflation for commodities overall to rise by more than 30 percent, to 6.3 percent per year. At the same time, these companies are expecting the rate of inflation for internal labor to more than triple, rising from 0.7 percent to 2.2 percent, and the rate of inflation for external services spending to increase more than two-fold, from 1.2 percent to 3 percent.?

Labor and services cost inflation are in part being driven by a tightening of labor supply markets in India, China, and other low-cost labor markets, fueled by increased demand. Most indicators for India and China point to roughly 6-10 percent inflation for 2011.?

“Inflation has become one of the top issues with our clients,” said Janssen. “Strength is returning to the global economy, but the rate of inflation has already increased significantly, and clients are concerned about the impact of further inflation during the coming year. Like the proverbial deer in the headlights, many companies see the approaching danger, but don’t know how to get out of the way. There’s real potential for all this to have an impact on growth, profitability, and consumer prices. It’s very tough to keep your promises to Wall Street when you can’t accurately forecast or control your expenses.”

For related articles click here.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
The Cloud Supply Chain Data Network
Understanding the Power of a Shared Online Network to Connect Global Partners and Achieve High Data Quality Levels
Download Today!
From the November 2016 Issue
The third time is the charm for this U.S. manufacturer on the hunt for a third-party logistics (3PL) provider that could successfully combine transportation services and technology capabilities under one roof.
Warehouse & DC Operations Survey: Ready to confront complexity
2016 Quest for Quality Awards Dinner
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Digital Evolution: Streamlining Logistics and Supply Chain Operations
In this FREE virtual conference we'll define the challenges facing operations and offer solutions designed to create dynamic, automated networks that offer seamless communication, improved collaborative third-party relationships, and the ability to respond to changes at a moment's notice.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Making the TMS Decision: Ariens Finds Just the Right Fit
The third time is the charm for this U.S. manufacturer on the hunt for a third-party logistics (3PL)...
Motor Carrier Regulations Update: Caught in a Trap
The fed is hitting truckers with a barrage of costly regulations in an era of scant profits....

25th Annual Masters of Logistics
Indecision revolving around three complex supply chain elements—transportation, technology and...
2016 Quest for Quality: Winners Take the Spotlight
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers and U.S. ports have crossed the service-excellence...