Archive for March, 2012

The Effects of Supply Chain Interruption on Pharma Trade

March 27, 2012

For those who attended the CPhI Japan show last week, you might have learned about a topic with emerging importance in the pharmaceutical industry—the effects of supply chain interruptions on pharmaceutical trade.

Last Wednesday, Yasutaka Igari, Ph.D, the chairperson of quality and technology at the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (JPMA) and senior director, global quality assurance department, Takeda Pharmaceutical Companies, delivered a presentation centered on quality assurance.

In proportion to the rapid diversification of suppliers of raw materials, quality-related issues have grown rapidly in recent years. In order to achieve consistent quality assurance from upstream to downstream throughout supply chain, it is essential to verify quality management system of raw material suppliers through auditing and also to establish a quality assurance system for distributing released products to customers without jeopardizing product quality.

This phenomenon has already shown adverse effects in Canada, where quality isn’t the issue—simply obtaining the right drugs has caused supply gaps. Recent reports say the federal government is working with pharmaceutical companies to address shortfalls in the supply of some prescription drugs, including a request that they seek alternative sources of the medications outside Canada. Hospitals in several provinces are reporting looming supply gaps for dozens of medications used in operating rooms, emergency departments and intensive care units.

Supply gaps are being blamed on a number of factors, including a diminished supply of raw materials—many of them from countries such as China and India—and a burgeoning global patient demand for medications.

Mark Ferdinand, senior director of health and economic policy for Rx & D, the association of Canada’s brand-name pharmaceutical companies, said Health Canada has to make critical decisions in conjunction with drug makers when it comes to alternative sources of supply.

But exactly where these medications would come from isn’t clear, given that drug shortages are occurring around the globe. In an online survey of almost 6,000 adults commissioned by the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores, more than 30 percent of respondents reported they had been affected by drug shortages, often more than once, during the past year.

Are you involved in the pharma or chemical industries? PIERS solutions provide major organizations the support needed to accurately track vital information in these global industries. The graph below shows how PIERS StatsPlus can be used to identify emerging trends in the supply of pharmaceutical ingredients & products. Contact us today to have a PIERS solutions expert show you more.


A (Razor) Sharp Idea for Gaining Competitive Intelligence

March 20, 2012

One of the world’s largest consumer brands and maker of popular men’s razor blades recently came up with a very clever and interesting way to use PIERS data for competitive intelligence.  The company suspected that one of their major competitors was getting ready to release a new razor blade in the U.S., but didn’t know what the new razor looked like or when they were planning to release the product.

This company had simultaneously been working on their own new razor and wanted to counter the release of their competitor’s product.  The plan was to let their competitor release their razor first, so they would know how best to position their own razor to steal market share away from their competitor.

They knew that their competitor had an assembly plant in China where they would be manufacturing the razor.  They also knew they couldn’t wait for them to start shipping the razors to the U.S. before they started planning and implementing the release of their own product.  They would need to rely on something other than the actual shipments of assembled razors to the U.S., to trigger the start of their own product release.

Using PIERS data the company scrutinized their competitor’s shipments to and from the assembly plant over the course of several months.  This allowed them to get a good idea of what the regular volume of goods was going in and out of the plant, and also allowed them to estimate the turnaround time for that facility.  Eventually, when they saw a spike in the volume of material being shipped to the assembly plant, they knew their competitor was gearing up for the release of the new razor.  Thanks to PIERS data they also knew how long after that shipment of materials it would be before the razors made their way to the U.S., allowing them to execute their counter-strategy as planned.

To learn more about how PIERS data can be used for competitive intelligence visit to find the solution that’s right for you.

Slainte! A Look at Top Sources of U.S. Waterborne Beer Imports

March 16, 2012

Before you down that mug of green beer in honor of St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, consider these figures pulled from PIERS data sources on the world’s top sources of U.S. waterborne beer imports (in TEUs).


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U.S. Containerized Imports Up for 3rd Consecutive Month, Led by Growth in Furniture, Auto Parts

March 15, 2012

Steady sales growth in both automobiles and existing homes over the last few months drove U.S. container import volumes up 4.1% in January to 1,475,608 million TEUs. This marks the 3rd consecutive month of year-over-year imports increase, and a month-over-month climb of 11%.

U.S. Containerized Imports January 2012


Adding to a continuous expansion lasting more than two years, January imports of auto parts rose 19%, while home sales spurred a 3rd straight month of increases in furniture, up 6%. The activity in the housing market bodes well for the short-term outlook of these volumes — the largest import commodity group, said Mario O. Moreno, economist for PIERS/The Journal of Commerce.

“The overall employment market is modestly improving, but real consumer spending has remained flat in the last 3 months through January. Higher gasoline prices are a major risk to the import trade as lower disposable income will adversely affect spending on discretionary goods such as apparel, computers, and home goods,” Moreno cautioned, noting a 10% drop in menswear in January, though inbound shipments of footwear rose by 4% after several months of decline.

Imports from Asia continued to rise, up 2.9% in January, with shipments from China climbing the most, up 2% to 709,410 TEUs. Moreno forecasts a 2.5 percent increase in U.S. imports from Asia throughout 2012. Also of note, imports from Mexico grew 68% for this period.

Moreno’s detailed report can be found in the March 2012 issue of JOC Insights and additional analysis of the PIERS/JOC findings is available online at

Launch of Next Generation iPad Propels Air Shipments

March 13, 2012

With last Wednesday’s launch of the new iPad (dubbed by some tech sites as the iPad 3, although not officially from Apple), Apple commanded air shipments causing a surge in airfreight rates, according to a BB&T Capital Markets report. Air cargo prices out of China increased 20 percent over the past week as Apple purchased space to ship its products in an increasingly capacity-strained environment, the report explained.

DHL was the primary carrier of the new iPad shipments. The logistics provider released its financial statements for fiscal-year 2011, which showed group revenues rising 2.8 percent, year-over-year, to €52.8 billion. Industry experts project the iPad deal could lead to another revenue surge for DHL.

Businesses in China that depend on exports to the United States were less than happy with the news of increased air cargo prices due to the new iPad launch. Apple’s squeeze on the air freight industry caused shippers of non-Apple products to scramble to find space for other shipments and many companies were unable to find space with its usual carriers for moving products overseas.

The third generation iPad, which features 4G connectivity, a 5-megapixel camera and a display with double the resolution of previous iPads, sold out on its pre-order date, March 8, leaving other Apple addicts waiting another two to three weeks to receive the popular tablet. Market experts generally expect Apple will sell about 10.1 million iPads in the current March quarter.

With PIERS, you can arm yourself with the right information to put these and other market shifts into perspective. Can your business benefit from sourcing a new supplier? Need assistance analyzing a new market? Contact us today to have a PIERS business development manager show you how our product solutions can help you grow your business, cut expenses and so much more.


Cool Cargo? Hot Data!

March 5, 2012

By 2014 container ships will transport three quarters of perishable reefer cargo as they take further market share from specialized refrigerated vessels, according to a new report by Drewry Maritime Research.  It was stated that the rise of containerized reefer shipping is depressing charter rates for refrigerated ships, which are facing a “cautious” financial outlook.  Reefer rates fell 10 percent in 2010 and are still retreating, although world trade in perishable products is increasing and demand for reefer capacity is “still healthy.” Container ships are forecast to carry some 74 percent of perishable reefer cargo by 2014, when they will provide up to 95 percent of capacity. But specialized reefer ships still have a future as niche carriers, the report said.

A Cool Cargoes track, taking place at TPM 2012 in Long Beach, CA will focus on the growth and capacity issues of the global cold chain including challenges in importing and exporting food products. Among the robust agenda will be the all important issue of temperature-controlled ocean service; with the continued contraction of the world’s specialized breakbulk reefer fleet and an increasing global demand for fresh fruits and vegetables along with meat, poultry and seafood, refrigerated containers are again in great demand. Along with increasing demand, practices such as ultra-slow steaming and a reduction of direct port calls put in place in recent years by container lines make it more challenging for shippers of perishable products to get goods to market with adequate shelf life remaining. Speakers from Maersk, Seatrade USA and Naturipe will discuss the implications of the service changes.

“The world’s growing middle class is spending a significant portion of their higher incomes to diversify and improve their diets,” said Peter Tirschwell, Senior Vice President for UBM Global Trade, the parent of The Journal of Commerce. “That has translated into record U.S. export shipments of beef, pork and poultry, along with increased imports of fruits and vegetables. With increased global consumer demand, reefer transportation has also come more into demand in all major trade lanes.”

PIERS has been a long time expert in reefer data and will be on site at the Cool Cargoes track providing a free reefer data report showing Top Trans Pacific Reefer Imports and Exports by Carrier, by Country and more.

Top 10 – Trans Pac Reefer Exports by Commodity

Can’t join us at TPM? Contact us today to speak to a sales rep about PIERS reefer data at 800.952.3839 or click here for an overview of our reefer data.

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