LiLou the pig helps to relax nervous passengers  © San Francisco International Airport
LiLou the pig helps to relax nervous passengers © San Francisco International Airport

Therapy pigs, Italy’s referendum and gold-plated Donald Trump iPhones – the supply chain week in...

8 December 2016

Lights out in Japan, 457,000 Pentagon procurement staff and £10 US meal kits all feature in this week's round up of procurement and supply chain stories...


The number of animals involved in a programme called Wag Brigade at San Francisco airport to soothe stressed visitors. The animals – including cats, dogs, rabbits and, most recently, a pig called LiLou – are carefully selected for their temperament. Trained and certified as Assisted Therapy animals, the Wag Brigade wear ‘Pet Me!’ vests and have been helping passengers chill since 2013.


The estimated price of a 24k gold bullion diamond encrusted iPhone 7 commemorating Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election. It has been commissioned from Dubai luxury retailer Goldgenie by an ultra-high net worth individual who wishes to remain anonymous. The customized iPhone, which took 180 man-hours to craft, bears an engraving of Trump. Goldgenie founder Laban Roomes says he expects to receive other similarly tasteful orders for luxury iPhones as Trump’s inauguration, on 20 January 2017, nears.


The number of full-time employees the Pentagon assigns to supply chains and logistics, according to a 2015 report by the Defense Business Board which has never been officially, released. A further 207,000 full-time staff work in purchasing. These figures have caused some consternation as the Pentagon only has 1.3m troops on active duty, the lowest level since 1940. The study claims that the organisation could save $125bn in five years without laying off any staff. One consultant said the Pentagon had no idea what it is paying for its business operations.


The percentage by which Italy's GDP has shrunk since 2007. The country's economic stagnation, in which corruption has played a large part, is one of the reasons voters decisively rejected prime minister Mario Renzi's proposals for constitutional reform in the recent referendum. Italy is rated 106th in the world for competitiveness, just below Honduras. By contrast, since 2007, GDP has grown by 9% in the UK and 8% in Germany.


The time at which offices in Japan’s Ministry of the Environment go dark for an hour to save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and remind society every day that climate change is a huge challenge. Yet polls suggest the message isn’t getting through to young people as it once did: one recent poll found that 75% of 18-29 year olds expressed interest in the issue, compared to 90% a few years ago.

550,000 metric tons

The amount of aluminium that has been shipped from its hiding place in Mexico to a remote port in southern Vietnam. The stockpile metal, connected to Chinese tycoon Liu Zhongtian, has been moved this year. A Wall Street Journal investigation suggested the metal had originally been moved to Mexico to evade US anti-dumping tariffs.


The average price of a meal-kit in America. As many Americans only spend $4 per person on dinner, the cost has deterred many consumers from trying meal kits – only 3% have, according to market research group NFD. At least half a dozen meal-kit/meal-delivery companies have either closed or been restructured this year. Yet food giants, including Hershey and Campbell’s, have invested in this business, as has Tyson Foods through a deal with Amazon Fresh.

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