Until last week, the most dangerous thing in Mexico did not come in the form of a nasty virus (unless, of course, you count corrupt military officials intervening in Juárez, rival fighting gangs killing dozens everyday and general chaos South of the border as a virulent strain of influenza). No, until last week, the danger that Mexico posed to the world Spend Management stage was isolated to those companies with plants and suppliers located in the drug violence zone (which is already driving some companies to consider ordering Tex-Mex vs. the real thing). But my, how a few days can change things. Swine flu, which has already claimed the lives of over 100 Mexicans, is spreading worldwide, albeit inconsistently.
Even though humans appear to have no resistance to it, as of this posting, there are no confirmed deaths (or even severe hospitalizations) in the US, despite an isolated outbreak in a NYC school and other confirmed cases. Does this mean from a supply chain perspective, we should ignore the threat? Absolutely not. Flu strains have a habit of mutating and we could easily see a much more deadly cross-border variety arrive later in the year. Which is further proof that if you've not planned contingencies for potential supply chain disruptions from a pandemic (or epidemic) disease, you should. A classic background piece on the subject comes courtesy of AMR Research (subscription required) that suggested during the original Avian flu outbreak that "companies that are not ready for the possibility of pandemic could suffer irreparable damage to their business". Spend Matters will continue to follow the Swine flu outbreak and report on the procurement and supply chain implications.