The phenomena of e-commerce is an incredible boon for consumers: customers can now quickly and easily find, research, purchase and use products in record time, with some areas of the U.S. already getting used to same-day and same-hour delivery. With online retailers and food delivery services propagating across the country, it seems we are coming closer to becoming a literal instant gratification economy. But these technological advancements have a price, and that price can be counted in infrastructure.
Noel Massie, a UPS district president in charge of a territory that includes southern California, southern Nevada, western Arizona and Hawaii, notes that two major shortcomings in U.S. infrastructure will clog up the roads necessary for a smooth transition to quick delivery. First, he argues that national investment in infrastructure is too low, with the U.S. backlog on repairs and improvements reaching $3.6 trillion. Second, he argues that budgets are often too focused on megaprojects that are perfect for ribbon-cutting ceremonies but not especially helpful for actual transportation. By restructuring how the U.S. appropriates funds for roads is critical in ensuring that the shift to a digital economy can be realized.
Instead of looking to solutions on the ground, a number of companies are looking to the skies. Drones are often listed at the forefront when speaking of this revolution: Google, Walmart and Amazon are all testing home-delivery drones, and a number of other companies are working on agricultural equivalents. On April 1, a government-sponsored committee recommended standards that would help clear the way for commercial drone flights over populated areas.
The standards would reverse the FAA's current regulations that prohibit most commercial drone flights. The standards would create four classes of drones. The first category would allow drones of less than a half-pound to fly unrestricted over crowds. The other three categories (those more likely to be involved in delivery) would have to fly at least 20 feet over the heads of people and land 10 feet from people, among other restrictions linked to the populations the drones would be serving. The recommendations (or the press surrounding them) seemed to spur some action: a few days later, the FAA noted it was working quickly to draft regulations that would permit drones to fly over people and crowds.
However, not everyone is sold on drones being the answer. A more pedestrian solution could be found in robots, which could share bike lanes and sidewalks to deliver items directly to customers' doors. Robots have a number of built-in advantages compared to drones: they could work within a relatively-established regulatory framework, they are inherently less dangerous as current top speeds reach 4.5 mph, and could carry heavier loads than drones.
It's not clear how the future will shake out. If I had to guess, a constantly-evolving blend of truck, drone and robotic deliveries will be weaved together to create the delivery system of the U.S. in coming years depending on the population being served. That being said, it's critical for the problem to be solved if retailers want to continue investing in the digital economy.
Sales for Kellogg’s U.S. morning foods unit declined 1.3% in its fiscal third quarter, reported CNBC (Oct. 31). Despite the decline, company officials see improvements on the horizon.read more
Food continues to be teens’ top spending category, remaining at its 24% peak, according Piper Jaffray Companies’ semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens survey. Chick-fil-A is the No. 1 restaurant among the age group, followed By Starbucks, which remains the only publicly traded brand with double-digit mindshare,.read more
Chris focuses on fresh, canned and frozen fruit and fresh and dried vegetables for the Food Institute Report. In addition, he assists in compiling data for various Food Institute publications throughout the year. He is a proud Rutgers University alumnus with a degree in English, and has a background in web writing for a variety of industries, including legal, foodservice and small-to-medium sized businesses. In his downtime you can find him watching New York Yankees baseball, hiking, enjoying live music and spending time with his dog Kaiden. He invites you to contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about anything food-related.
There are no comments, yet. Why don't you add one?
10 Mountainview Road
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Food Institute reps are available to answer your questions
BECOME A MEMBER
For close to 90 years, The Food Institute has been the best "single source" for food industry executives, delivering actionable information daily via email updates, weekly through The Food Institute Report and via a comprehensive web research library. Our information gathering method is not just a "keyword search."