Supply Chain Blog

Marathon v Snickers: How fast is your FMCG Supply Chain?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, May 02, 2013

For people of a certain age from the UK the high calorie, nutty chocolate bar in a brown-blue-yellow wrapper made by Mars Inc will always be a Marathon (before you ask, the USA Marathon was a Curly-Wurly type product). Snickers just does not work for me and I support campaigns to get the Marathon name reinstated. Snickers may well have been the name of a favoured horse of the Mars Inc owning family but for a chocolate bar? Snickers sounds a bit Benny Hill giggly-girly-underwear mixed with Mutley from Dick Dastardly.

Supply Chain speed & agilityThe annual Virgin London Snickers race does not work, does it? Would you watch a Dustin Hoffman film called Snickers Man? After running 26 miles plus 385 yards would you want to be known as the Olympic Snickers champion?  Was the 490BC battle between the Athenians and the Persians known as the Battle of Snickers? No, the whole point about a Marathon was that the bar took an age to eat as you chewed through nougat, the chocolate and the thick, sticky nutty caramel mixture. The day the Marathon name disappeared from the shelves in Mr. Roby’s sweet shop on the corner of The Wiend in Tranmere was almost as traumatic as the day I retired my hair comb.

Running a marathon has never been on my list of things to do and probably never will be.  Running such huge distance with monotonous pace in all sorts of weather is not my idea of fun even if I ran dressed in a large prawn outfit. I liken a marathon to the way some companies still operate their Supply Chains.

  1. Inflexible
  2. Slow.
  3. Unresponsive.
  4. Long lead times and….
  5. Too many people involved; chaotic at times.

Did you know that the world record for completing the marathon distance has only improved by 2 minutes since 2002? Whereas the men’s 100m record has improved by 0.2 seconds over the same period. Proportionally, the shorter race has seen a greater improvement in time. I accept that the marathon is not run so often and the course difficulty varies but I still find this significant; the faster you are the more opportunity you have to improve. That sounds about right too.

Developing this further, the 4 x 100m relay is probably the ideal race to compare against your Supply Chain.

  1. Fast, really fast.
  2. Direct.
  3. Agile.
  4. Collaborative teamwork; slick communication.
  5. Small team with each member knowing their own roles.

Is your Supply Chain plodding along with the speed and agility of a giant prawn or are you a champion sprinter?

Image courtesy of sippakorn at

Tagss: FMCG, Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Supply Chain