CPC General Meeting Fails to Show Optimism for Canadian Pallet Pool

We have been monitoring the challenges of the Canadian Pallet Council (CPC) quietly for the last few months, but with the situation now being reported elsewhere, perhaps it is time to make the situation of Canada’s cooperative pallet pool more widely known, and question if the CPC brand still holds potential value for a white knight moving forward.

On June 20, 2013, CPC held its AGM. According to sources, not much new came out of the meeting, with the anticipation of the cooperative pallet pool terminating operations by the end of the year. There were questions from shippers with respect to whether remaining major distributors would continue to return CPC pallets. The answer was that if there were no safety issues related to pallet condition, that distributors would continue to return empty pallets to shippers for the time being. There were no commitments made with respect to their anticipated position with respect to 2014.

The situation was foreshadowed in the Communication to Members sent on May 15 with respect to CPC and Loblaw, as well as in commentary distributed in the Agenda to the AGM:

Immediately following the close of the formal AGM meeting there will be an informal discussion regarding the current status of the CPC. The CPC Board of Directors and staff will be available to have an interactive discussion with Members regarding the anticipated closure of the CPC.

During recent months, we have invested a great deal of CPC’s limited resources in seeking solutions and at this point, the CPC Board and Management do not see a way to maintain a viable and meaningful organization for members, in light of all of the necessary service reductions due to loss of revenue. As a result, the termination of the organization by year end is anticipated and plans are underway to close the CPC. However, this is an issue for determination by the membership, and we need to hear members’ views and consider any options, alternatives or suggestions that the members may have.

The future of CPC looks bleak, although the long serving CPC brand itself may still have some residual value. In the past, the private sector has expressed some interest in partnering with CPC in the delivery of a new and improved pallet system, but the barrier of bureaucracy was always viewed as an insurmountable hurdle to change.  Is this dire situation the “burning platform” that might make the CPC more interested in such a move, or has that window of opportunity now closed with respect to outside interest? Most insiders seem to think the moment has already passed, but time will tell.

The CPC itself was first launched in 1977, having evolved from the development of a common interchange pallet in Canada, the 48×40″ GMPC pallet, which was introduced by the Canadian grocery industry in 1968.

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