As Americans—and retailers—grapple with the effects of a challenged supply chain, the Biden-Harris administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation announced March 15 the launch of Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW), an initiative aimed at speeding up delivery times and reducing consumer costs.
Through FLOW, 18 initial partners—including, within grocery retail, Albertsons and Target—will work with the administration to develop an information exchange to ease supply-chain congestion, speed up the movement of goods and ultimately cut costs for Americans, according to a statement from the White House. The Transportation Department will lead the effort.
“As part of our commitment to helping find solutions to the challenges facing the U.S. supply chain, Target is pleased to work with White House officials, the U.S. Department of Transportation and industry leaders to increase data transparency to move goods more efficiently and continue to meet the needs of American families and the U.S. economy,” Target VP of Transportation Scott Fremont said in a statement.
FLOW builds on the Biden administration’s continued efforts to address supply-chain challenges in both the short and long term. In a White House fact sheet about FLOW, the administration said weaknesses in the supply chain are the result of decades of underinvestment, outsourcing and offshoring instead of investment in long-term security, sustainability and resilience.
Tom Madrecki, VP of supply chain and logistics for the Consumer Brands Association, said that the “potential of establishing a national freight data portal will add badly needed visibility into the supply chain.”
“Consumer Brands applauds the administration and the Department of Transportation for acknowledging the need for data-sharing and the innovative potential it creates,” Madrecki said in a statement. “The consumer packaged goods industry is eager to continue its work with the administration to help realize FLOW’s objectives and, ultimately, preserve the availability, affordability and accessibility of essential products.”
Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden ordered a one-year, in-depth review of supply chains for six key sectors, including agricultural commodities and food production. As part of the executive order, federal agencies and departments were directed to identify not only the specific goods and manufacturing processes that are essential to the functioning of critical supply chains but also the vulnerabilities created when the U.S. lacks capacity to source or make what it needs domestically.