Russia is cutting its cosmonaut numbers to two on the International Space Station © PA
Russia is cutting its cosmonaut numbers to two on the International Space Station © PA

Stolen syrup, elusive mangoes and costly cosmonauts - the supply chain in numbers

19 August 2016


The value of maple syrup stolen from carrier Mexuscan Cargo’s yard in Montreal. The thieves probably used a tractor to lift the consignment of 13,000 litres of maple syrup destined for the Japanese market. Alfredo Monaco, vice-president of Mexuscan, said: “Maple syrup is a hot commodity, liquid gold.” This isn’t the greatest maple syrup robbery: in 2012, thieves made off with millions of dollars worth of stock from a Montreal Warehouse.

2 years

The time it took McDonald’s to find and grow enough mangoes to roll out a new fruit smoothie at its 14,000 restaurants in the US. Fast food chain Wendy experienced a similar delay when it decided to add blackberries to its menu for the first time. Consumer demand for fresher produce is complicating fast food supply chains with companies knowing that there is a risk that new ingredients won’t appeal to consumers – McDonald’s introduction of baby carrots to US outlets proved short lived.

The value of the contract Balfour Beatty has won to upgrade the high-speed railway line that links San Francisco to many of Silicon Valley’s most famous companies. This is the biggest American contract the company has ever won. It will design and build the electrification system of the 52-mile Caltrain corridor that runs through 17 cities between San José and San Francisco.


That’s how many cosmonauts Russia would like to keep on the International Space Station (ISS) as it seeks to cut costs – it has previously had three. The first section of the ISS was launched into space on 20 November 1998. After about $100bn in investment, the station is now the size of an American football pitch and will be in operation until at least 2024. While Russia cuts back, NASA is investing in a new docking adapter to enable private spacecraft to park there.


The number of deaths that have been linked to 2.6m faulty ignition switches in General Motors vehicles between 2003 and 2005. If jostled, the ignition switched off, meaning that safety systems did not work as designed. The automotive giant has paid out $800m to settle 1,800 claims of death and injury and paid $900m to the Department of Justice to resolve a criminal investigation. Hundreds of lawsuits remain, with 12 scheduled for trial in US courts in the next 12 months.


The size of China’s workforce in 2050, according to the United Nations. This will be 100m fewer than 2010, when the number of workers peaked. A fall in internal migration – coupled with a shrinking labour pool – is making it harder to recruit staff and pushing up wages. China’s average labour cost per hour stood at 64% of US manufacturing wages in 2015. This has prompted employers to turn to robots – the number hired is expected to more than double to 150,000 by 2018.


The number of UK councils supporting an initiative for their procurement departments to exclude businesses that engage in tax avoidance. Christian Aid, which has been campaigning for this policy, estimates that councils in England spend £45m a year on services. Since 2015, councils have been required to scrutinise the tax affairs of the companies with which they do business more closely, asking whether a company has been involved in illegal tax practices. The Christian Aid campaign urges councils to quiz suppliers about incorrect tax avoidance anywhere in the world.

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