The newest offering from Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) for this year’s cookie drive is having difficulty getting to customers. Adventurefuls have fallen victim to the supply chain woes felt by manufacturers across the country. Not enough of the new variety of cookies can be produced to supply booth sales this year.
In this case, a labor shortage in one of the bakeries contracted by the Girl Scouts due to COVID-19 is causing a nationwide shortage. GSUSA contracted two licensed bakers, ABC Bakers of Brownsburg, Ind., and Little Brownie Bakers, of Louisville, Ky. A labor shortage at Little Brownie Bakers caused the cookie shortage. More production shifted to ABC Bakers but it didn’t happen quickly enough to keep up with demand. Adventurefuls are expected to be a popular addition to the line of cookies sold by the Girl Scouts. Unfortunately, there won’t be enough to fill orders for scouts looking to sell them in booth sales.
Girl Scout cookies are sold for six weeks each year. Cookie sales raise money for troops for things like summer camp and other activities. The girls sell them directly to customers, in booths outside brick and mortar stores, online, and with mobile tools. Sales are much more sophisticated than when I was a scout. We just went door to door around the neighborhood. Times have changed. Those booths set up outside your local grocery store this year will likely have whatever your favorite is, but may not have the newest cookie to sell. The important part of the sales program is to teach girls about entrepreneurship and small business management. Besides life skills like leadership and integrity, the girls are learning about supply chains and how they affect product sales. Some councils are choosing to just not sell the Adventurefuls in booths.
For example, the Nation’s Capital council, which represents 25 counties in Virginia; Maryland; West Virginia; and Washington, D.C., has opted out of selling the cookie because orders wouldn’t arrive in time for booth sales. “Volunteers are already stretched thin,” Council CEO Lidia Soto-Harmon told The Washington Post. “We just don’t have the bandwidth to come back to pick up one cookie.”
If you don’t have a Girl Scout in your home and are wondering – the Adventurefuls are “an indulgent brownie-inspired cookie with caramel-flavored crème and a hint of sea salt”, according to the website. Scout leaders and volunteers were notified in January of the problem. The good news for the scouts this year is that there is a high demand for the cookies. Last year, because of the pandemic, 15 million boxes of cookies went unsold. The scouts had to focus on minimal- and no-contact sales for safety. Those cookies didn’t go to waste – good Samaritans stepped up and donated them to camps, schools, first responders, the military, and others.
“Due to extremely high demand and unprecedented covid related labor shortages in the facility where Adventurefuls are produced, our Adventureful cookie order will be capped at 7% of our total cookie sales,” the message read. But after The Post inquired about the shortage, the national organization said it had fixed the issue by sourcing more cookies from the other of two bakers the organization relies on to produce the 2 million-plus boxes sold annually by local troops to raise money for their own programs, camps and other activities.
Raising money is important for scout troops but more importantly, the girls learn lessons that will come in handy in later life. They learn the business side of sales like planning and inventory management, money management, how to fulfill orders, distribution and delivery of their products, and sales and marketing. There is a new merit badge because of the supply chain problems. “Girl Scout Cookies and the Supply Chain” program was created by The Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida (GSTF) and Ryder System.
The “Girl Scout Cookies and the Supply Chain” program teaches Girl Scouts how supply chain management impacts how and when products arrive in stores, while inspiring girls to see themselves working in the industry in the future. Girls from South Florida and around the country earned the patch on Dec. 12 as part of a virtual event showing how supply chains work, including the supply chains for Girl Scout Cookies.
The concept and the curriculum used to teach the girls were developed through a partnership between GSTF, Ryder, and the University of Tennessee’s Global Supply Chain Institute.
The girls that still sell cookies the old-school way by going door-to-door are able to do that this year. Sales are reported to be up. Other scouts are using innovation – drive-through sales and touchless purchases. There is also a “cookie finder” app that tracks down booth sales in your neighborhood.