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Pandemic Supply Chains Gain Sharper IRI Focus

The market research group launches CPG Supply Index
IRI is giving food retailers more supply chain visibility.

Food and retail supply chain worries stand as a top anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak, and now IRI aims to bring more insight to that vital area of commerce.  

The Chicago-based Information Resources Inc. said Tuesday that it has added what it calls the IRI CPG Supply Index to its online COVID-19 Info Portal and Data Dashboard. “The new tool provides a standard metric for tracking weekly changes in the availability (in-stock rates) of CPG products in absolute terms as well as a relative measure compared to pre-pandemic levels across departments, retail formats and regions,” IRI said.

The new feature works like this: Daily online and in-store transaction data from major retail chains, along with other information such as regional COVID-19 spread rates, serve as the foundation for the new IRI CPG Supply Index metrics. “IRI then applies its proprietary on-shelf availability algorithms to this unparalleled data set,” the market research company said. “These algorithms leverage artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to produce accurate in-stock rates across departments and retail formats. The index also includes insights into in-stock rates by U.S. state and region for edible and non-edible products.”

Index users can select from two main metrics. “The In-Stock Percentage metric provides insight into in-stock rates in absolute terms,” IRI said. “The Supply Index metric allows users to compare current in-stock rates with pre-COVID-19 levels. For this metric, measurements above 100 indicate growth and measurements below indicate decline compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.”

Among the early findings from the new IRI CPG Supply Index include data that point to a recently “slight dip” in beverage supplies and the emerging steadiness of general supply chains in early May, even as supply generally remains lower now than was the case before the pandemic.

“COVID-19 is disrupting supply chains across the globe, which has made it extremely difficult for CPG businesses to track product availability metrics such as in-stock rates and is creating unprecedented local variation within each country,” said Andrew Appel, president and chief executive officer of IRI. “This comprehensive solution uses IRI’s refined proprietary algorithms to model in-stock rates both in absolute terms and against measurements taken just before the COVID disruption — giving CPG retailers and manufacturers a holistic picture of how consumers experience out-of-stock issues.”

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