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Canadian supply chains will be largely unchanged in the near future: report


December 13, 2021
By The Conference Board of Canada

Most Canadian businesses do not plan to change their supply chain design in the wake of the ongoing pandemic-induced supply chain issues, according to new research from The Conference Board of Canada. Done in tandem with The Conference Board Inc.’s U.S. and European offices, the research assessed how businesses are rethinking their supply chains.

“The recent pandemic was a catalyst for businesses to examine and streamline their processes to be more efficient and nimble,” said Swapna Nair, senior economist, global commerce centre lead at The Conference Board of Canada. “Interestingly, our research found the pandemic-induced pressure to reduce or eliminate dependence on producing and distributing in other countries may not be a major factor for Canadian businesses because of the domestic nature of their supply chains.”

Key findings of the research include:

  • Despite pandemic-induced disruptions, the pressure to localize may not be a significant factor for Canadian businesses because of the domestic nature of their supply chains.
  • Most Canadian businesses – 90 to 95 per cent of respondents – already have production and distribution sites in Canada and expect them to remain here.
  • Eighty per cent of Canadian businesses that source services, 76 per cent that source raw materials, and 60 per cent that source semi-finished or finished products intend to maintain their current sourcing locations. These results are not surprising given that current sourcing locations are predominantly domestic.
  • Non-Canadian businesses are more likely than Canadian businesses to make changes to their sourcing locations.
  • Improving resiliency by fostering sustainable business practices motivates those Canadian businesses planning to restructure their supply chain.
  • Over a quarter (26 per cent) of Canadian businesses do not expect technology to impact their supply chain design, while only 11 per cent of non-Canadian businesses say the same thing. This highlights the long-standing issue of Canada’s relative lack of investment in and adoption of information and communication technologies.
  • Among those adopting new technology, both Canadian and non-Canadian businesses reported artificial intelligence and big data analytics as top technologies influencing their future supply chain design.

The research is available for subscribers here.

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