I saw a TV piece on the pet food contamination scandal in the US recently which affected many dogs and cats. It was interesting to note the initial confusion amongst consumers as the contamination affect many different brands across different price points and market positions. This is because like many other mass manufacture-based industries, the pet food sector sources its base products from relatively few manufacturers worldwide.

And then there was the recent worldwide recall of Sony-made lithium ion batteries used in laptops from “nearly every major laptop maker”. Thus a single incidence of contamination could potentially result in exploding laptops worldwide.

This is the result of our obsession with the never ending chase of cost reduction. With globalisation comes new opportunities for greater economies of scale, and cheaper labour to exploit. No surprise that more and more manufacturing will be done by fewer and fewer mega-factories.


So what do we lose as businesses continue to chase greater economies of scale?

So – what is to stop buyers from going directly to the factories? The concept of “cutting out the middle man” suddenly takes on a cataclysmic meaning.

Oprah used her recent show on dogs to espouse the benefits of back-to-basics pet food, where you go get the raw material from the grocers and make your own. What a radical concept. Certainly there seems to be more people starting up businesses around the idea of homemade organic pet food. You get to know who made the food – wow!

So how does chlorine dioxide fit in to all this?

The supply chain problem caused by the limited number of mega-factories is further compounded by just-in-time inventory practices. Disrupt the manufacturer, and inventory quickly runs out. Disrupt both the manufacturer and the movement of inventory, and a product can disappear off the shelves quick smart.

So what you say. Who cares if your favourite ear buds are out of stock? Consider this: the city of Chicago has, at any one time, access to only seven days supply of chlorine used for water purification purposes.

Thanks to cost-saving JIT practices, should the chlorine supply be interrupted, Chicago will run out of drinking water in just seven days!

Now this is way scarier than pets getting ill from contaminated food.