Your assignment is to read the case on the use of IT in supply chain management, and answer the questions given in the end of the case in a report format. Your report
should be no more than 2-3 pages long (max 700 words). You may cite references, but not mandatory. The inference from the case and answering the questions depends on
your understanding of the case, the utility of IT, and coherent critical thinking.
Sunsweet Growers Cultivates Its Supply Chain
Sunsweet Growers Inc. is an agricultural cooperative headquartered in Yuba City, California, and is the largest handler of dried tree fruits in the world. Sunsweet
processes and markets 40,000 cases of dried fruit every day. In addition to dried cranberries, apricots, pineapples, and many other fruits, Sunsweet produces more than
50,000 tons of prunes annually for over one-third of the global market. With 400 member-owners of orchards located primarily in the Sacramento and San Joaquin
valleys of central California, Sunsweet has unique supply chain management issues. Most companies are constrained by either demand or supply, but not both. But in
Sunsweet’s case, both demand and supply are determined by factors that the company does not control. Sunsweet cannot control its supply, which is determined by the
weather and growing season, or its demand, which is set by the market.
Like many manufacturers, Sunsweet sees spikes in demand for its products around holidays, such as Christmas and Easter. The growers harvest their fruit in August,
September, and October, triggering a furious effort at the processing plant to dry, store, and package the fruit for delivery to retail stores. However, with the
source limited to 400 growers in one geographic area, the supply of fruit varies significantly from year to year. When demand peaked around the holidays, Sunsweet
often found itself shelling out extra money to pay workers overtime in order to fulfill its orders. Scheduling and planning the production and distribution of dozens
of varieties and sizes of fruits in packaging bearing 20 different languages was a complex operation.
Sunsweet needed to improve scheduling and line utilization while reducing inventory, transportation costs, and order lead time. To address these supply chain
management issues, Sunsweet adopted a sales and operations planning (S&OP) program, which seeks to balance demand and supply on a regular and formal basis and keep
them balanced as conditions change. S&OP helps businesses routinely handle unexpected events such as unanticipated demand, shortages in supply, and production
disruptions. Prior to implementing S&OP, Sunsweet managed its supply chain with a paper-based spreadsheet system. That system became increasingly inadequate as the
business grew more complex due to outdated data, difficulty in supporting collaboration, and a lack of powerful tools for representing the business problem.