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Following the Candy Trail

Friday February 26, 2016
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Like many of you, I’m sure, I like to indulge in the occasional Snickers bar. Unfortunately, some consumers in Europe and Asia have to put that type of enjoyment on hold for a little while, as Mars, Snickers’ parent company, issues a candy recall.

The McLean, Virginia-based confectionary giant issued an expanded recall earlier this week for Mars bars, Snickers, Milky Ways, and certain kinds of Celebrations boxes in 55 European and Asian countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Britain, Italy, Spain, France, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. This recall is voluntary but was prompted by a complaint from a German consumer about finding a piece of red plastic in a Snickers bar he purchased January 8, according to Daily Mail.

Since then, Mars has traced the product back to the company’s Veghel, the Netherlands, facility. Company officials determined that the red piece of plastic came from a protective cover used in the plant’s manufacturing process. The candy-maker decided to recall all items produced in the facility with best-before dates ranging from June 2016 to January 2017 as a precaution. 

“We are currently investigating exactly what's happened, but we cannot be sure that this red piece of plastic isn't in any other of our products from the same production line,” said Eline Bijveld, Mars corporate affairs coordinator for the Netherlands, in the article. 

Mars actually dealt with a similar situation almost a decade ago. In 2007, the company recalled packs of Maltesers and Revels after five consumers reported finding small pieces of rubber in the sweets. That problem was traced back to an isolated incident on the production line at its Berkshire, England, facility, which was identified and repaired. However, this is the first time the company has had to issue a recall from its Veghel factory, which has been in production since 1963. 

Although recalls are always a challenge for companies, food and beverage industry recalls are especially difficult. Because the items are sold in both large and small retailers, newsstands, vending machines, and more, it is difficult to track the consumers of these smaller purchases. Instead, industry players have to rely on consumers to report their issues, return the products, or discard them. Although Mars has experience managing recalls, it undoubtedly has a few recall challenges to overcome in the coming weeks and months. 

Preparing for risk

No manufacturer is immune to recalls. Therefore it’s important to be prepared for them with a risk-management plan. As part of overall risk management, the APICS Operations Management Body of Knowledge Framework lays out a three-step process: identify the sources of potential disruptions, assess the potential impact of the risk, and develop plans to mitigate the risk. For example, the risk of supplier problems can be mitigated by utilizing multiple suppliers, and quality failures can be avoided through careful supplier selection and monitoring. 

Managing and mitigating risk is just one of the important topics that will be covered at the 2016 Best of the Best S&OP Conference, which will take place June 16–17 in Chicago. This leading educational and networking event also will help you bridge gaps between strategic business goals and operating plans through integrated business planning, extend your sales and operations planning (S&OP) process outside your organization and across your supply chain, use S&OP to enhance new product launches, effectively utilize forecasting and demand planning in the S&OP process, and more. To learn more about this event, co-hosted by the Institute of Business Forecasting & Planning, or to register, visit apics.org/best
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