Eagles are the latest weapon employed in the war against drones ©Armée de l’air
Eagles are the latest weapon employed in the war against drones ©Armée de l’air

Eagles, fish and a hoarse whisperer – the supply chain in numbers

23 February 2017

Our number crunching round-up of the week in procurement and supply chains.


Royal eagles are being trained by the French Air Force to combat drones. Named Aramis, Athos, Porthos and d’Artagnan – after the heroes of Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Three Musketeers – they are being trained in the Pyrenees. The eagles grew up with drones – their eggs were placed on top of them – and they were soon taught to take meat off them. They can see the devices from a thousand yards. In one recent trial, d’Artagnan flew 218 yards in 20 seconds to destroy a drone. The birds, which will be fitted with special gloves to protect their talons, can be deployed in situations when it is too risky to shoot drones down. The French Air Force has already ordered a second consignment of eggs.

30,500,000 gallons

The volume of water that has been saved in the first year of an alliance between Haiti recycler Thread International and footwear manufacturer Timberland. Thread collects waste in Haiti and turns it into fabric for Timberland, which then turns it into sneakers and boots. Using Threads’ Ground to Good fabric, as opposed to all-cotton canvas, means the brand uses much less water and has helped recycle 765,000 plastic bottles. Thread is seeking $9m in funding to expand. Founder Ian Rosenberger says companies need to analyse the environmental impact of their own supply chains before NGOs or journalists do: “The instinct to run to the blind spot is what sustainability is all about.”

Nearly 100

Complaints from viewers about inaudible dialogue in the BBC’s new alternative-history drama SS-GB, based on Len Deighton’s novel. Many complaints focused on Sam Riley, the actor playing the drama’s detective anti-hero, who was dubbed by one viewer as the “hoarse whisperer”. The BBC, which was inundated with similar complaints after the adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn in 2014, said it will “look at the sound levels” before the second episode is broadcast. The poor sound – which prompted one critic to watch with subtitles – has been variously blamed on flat screen TVs (which have speakers at the back), and the method used to record and mix sound (to allow foreign buyers to overdub it).


The sum paid at a US auction for Adolf Hitler’s personal phone. The Bakelite telephone was painted red and engraved with Hitler’s name, an eagle and a swastika. Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland said: “This was not a staid office phone. This was Hitler’s mobile phone of destruction.” Found in Hitler’s bunker in Berlin in 1945, it was given by the Russians to British officer Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner. His son put it up for sale in America after British auctioneers, Sotheby’s and Christie’s, turned it down in keeping with their policy of not selling Nazi memorabilia.


The proportion of South Korea’s GDP accounted for by Samsung. The conglomerate’s troubles, which started with the recall of an exploding smartphone, have been exacerbated by the arrest of Lee Jae-yong, the de facto head of the conglomerate. Lee has been arrested on suspicion of bribery, embezzlement and perjury in connection with the widening political scandal surrounding the country’s President Park Geun-hye.


The amount 3G Capital, the private equity group that spearheaded Kraft Heinz’s unsuccessful bid for Unilever, has to spend on its next mega deal, according to sources quoted in the Financial Times. The group, led by Brazilian billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann, can also call on funds from Warren Buffett, the American billionaire and co-owner of Kraft Heinz, who often partners up with it on investments. The other companies 3G owns are Burger King and Anheuser-Busch InBev. The Unilever offer, withdrawn after the Anglo-Dutch company’s opposition became clear, suggests that 3G is keen to expand beyond its traditional markets, food and drink.

2,000 miles

The length of Vietnam’s coastline, which leaves the country vulnerable to climate change. It is estimated that one-fifth of Ho Chi Minh City could be underwater by the end of the century. The government has introduced comprehensive environmental regulations but economic growth remains the top priority. Last year, an accident at a steel mill on the coast affected 200,000 people and killed thousands of fish in Dong Hoi in central Vietnam.


The cost of a dish of wild-caught petrale sole with lemon capers, dill, saffron, Parmesan risotto and grilled asparagus at Silicon Valley restaurant Odeum. The dish will actually cost owner Salvatore Calisi up to $120,000 after a court found he often replaced the petrale sole with cheaper fish. The ploy by self-styled freewheeling chef Calisi is not exceptional: a 2016 report by the Oceana organisation suggested that one in five seafood samples worldwide was wrongly labelled. Farmed tilapia, farmed salmon and Asian catfish were popular substitutes for costlier fish.

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