A Different Kind of Business Disruption: Gypsy Moths

Are you prepared for delays in your supply chain from unconventional sources?

So many things can disrupt a supply chain: natural disasters, plant/warehouse fires, labor disputes … and Gypsy moths? According to an alert from Inchcape Shipping Services, Asian Gypsy moths may indeed cause slowing or delays in shipments from Japan, Russia, Korea and China this summer.

More infested cargo ships have been stopped by government officials in the past year, including one in late January that had 275 Asian Gypsy moth egg "masses" onboard. Each mass can contain up to 1,000 eggs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The fear is that introduction of Asian Gypsy moths into North America could lead to widespread deforestation.

How is this having an impact on the supply chain? The U.S. Border Patrol, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Agriculture will be stepping up inspections of incoming vessels from certain ports to ensure that the moths don't enter. They've released a list of regulations for shipping companies to implement, but increased inspections can mean increased delays for getting materials and products to shore.

These unplanned delays could ripple through the supply chain. What do you tell your customers if your product won't be available because it's stuck on a ship offshore?

A business disruption is a great time to reinforce your value to your customers based on how you respond. Are you ready with substitute products or alternate sources to make sure your customers' needs are being met? Can you provide them with alternate options to meet their needs, even if it's a product they didn't think of? (Read more on proving your value to customers in How to Get Customers to Fight for You.) The key is having a plan in place to respond to the potential for delay so that it doesn't catch you off guard.

How you respond to this unexpected disruption can help you strengthen your customer relationships, or it can send them looking for someone else. The choice is yours.

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