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Weekly Roundup - Mars Moo’ving Program, Toyota’s Investments in AI and Amazon’s Electric Seaport Trucks

Yulia Fedorova

10 May 2024

Mars has initiated the "Moo’ving Dairy Forward" program with a $47 million investment over three years to decrease the carbon footprint from dairy sourcing, aligning with its broader goal to slash carbon emissions by half within its value chain by 2030. Dairy is a significant source of Mars' GHG emissions, with the requirement of milk from a vast number of cows and farms. The company focuses on reducing methane emissions through improved feed, efficient manure management, and sustainable crop practices. Mars is collaborating internationally on various projects, including pilot "net zero" dairy farms in Germany, a Sustainable Dairy Development Program with FrieslandCampina, and a seaweed supplement trial with Fonterra and Sea Forest to cut methane emissions in cows. In Poland, they are introducing a Bovaer feed additive project with local partners. These endeavors are part of Mars' strategy to encourage an industry-wide shift towards sustainable practices. Amanda Davies of Mars Snacking has highlighted the necessity of collaboration with farmers and suppliers to achieve their vision for sustainable dairy, ensuring financial incentives for climate-smart farming adaptations.

Toyota Motor forecasts a 20% drop in profit for the current fiscal year despite a 78% increase in operating profit in the last quarter and a record full-year profit of 5.35 trillion yen ($34.5 billion). The company credits a weak yen and strong demand for petrol-electric hybrids in the U.S. for recent successes. However, it is planning strategic investments in its supply chain, labor costs, and technology areas like AI and software, totaling 1.7 trillion yen. CEO Koji Sato has indicated a need to evolve the company's manufacturing processes as it aims to become a mobility company. Despite the success of its hybrids, Toyota lags in battery-only EV sales, making up just 1% of global sales, and faces stiff competition in China from local EV manufacturers. Toyota is also entering partnerships, such as with Tencent, and has introduced two new battery EVs at the Beijing auto show. Analyst James Hong from Macquarie views the profit guidance as disappointing due to unforeseen additional investment costs.

Amazon has rolled out its inaugural batch of Volvo electric big rigs intended to transport cargo from the bustling container seaport in Southern California. Currently, eight of these electric semi trucks are operational at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, aligning with the port's mandate for all drayage trucks to be zero-emissions by 2035. This initiative is a key step in Amazon's broader aim to electrify the transportation chain from seaport to doorstep, supporting its goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Amazon is currently focusing on data collection to refine battery usage and determine the necessary fleet size for future operations.

Gartner survey indicates that 61% of organizations are reassessing their data and analytics (D&A) models due to AI advancements. The survey, which included responses from 479 senior D&A professionals worldwide, was conducted between September and November 2023. Chief Data & Analytics Officers (CDAOs) are at the forefront of adapting D&A models to enhance data-driven innovation, emphasizing the importance of data governance. CDAOs are expected to significantly revise their D&A architecture and governance policies in the coming year. As their roles evolve, CDAOs are taking on greater responsibilities, including AI and generative AI, despite facing financial limitations. To secure better funding and executive support, CDAOs are improving their business cases for CFOs, although many lack the metrics to quantify the value of their D&A initiatives. There's a risk that by 2026, CDAOs not demonstrating sufficient organization-wide influence and measurable impact could be absorbed into broader technology functions.

Source: Gartner(2024)

The strong US dollar is exerting negative pressure on global trade, slowing down its recovery, as indicated by a Bloomberg gauge that shows many trade indicators below normal levels, including a decline in US export orders.

Source: Bloomberg(2024)

However, the Port of Los Angeles is an outlier, with cargo flow remaining robust, predominantly from imports. The OECD has forecasted that global trade will grow by 2.3% this year, which is modest compared to a 3.1% expected increase in the world GDP. The dollar's strength reduces the cost of imports into the US but raises the price of US exports, affecting multinational corporations like Apple, which experiences a discrepancy between actual demand and reported earnings due to currency translation. Japan, conversely, is experiencing inflated costs for energy and food imports due to a weaker yen, leading to governmental countermeasures. The tourism sector is also impacted, particularly highlighted by the planned US-Japan tourism collaboration in 2024, with the dollar's value playing a significant role in the dynamics of travel between the two nations.

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"Dimensions of data sparseness and their effect on supply chain visibility" by Isabelle M. van Schilt, Jan H. Kwakkel, Jelte P. Mense and Alexander Verbraeck (2024)

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