The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

21 December 2005

True out-of-the-box thinking

Auto parts from Japan arrive at Honda's Marysville, Ohio plant in huge shipping containers. Sending them back empty is not particularly difficult, but it costs money, so Honda built a plant next door to process, of all things, soybeans.

Really. The Autoextremist reports that Honda has been buying soybeans from a couple hundred Ohio farmers (there are a few in Michigan also) at about a buck above the going rate per bushel, then ships them back to Japan in those cargo containers. Honda's willing to pay that premium because they insist on beans with high uniformity and with no genetic modifications, in accordance with the demands of the Japanese market. Last year Honda's Harmony Agricultural Products In Ohio division exported nearly a million bushels of soybeans and made about $10 million in the process, a brilliant example of a profitable niche market developed to avoid an expense.

Posted at 1:08 PM to Entirely Too Cool

The US, as you probably know, imports more than it exports. What this means is that, around major ports of entry (such as here in Newark) you wind up with mountains of used shipping containers. I mean the big boys, bigger than a house trailer, that they hook up to trucks. Same thing - it costs money to ship them back empty. Some of them go back out with product, but since we take in more than we ship, the mountains grow higher ach year. It's a real problem, they take up valuable land and they breed vermin. No to mention they make a terrific place to hide a dirty bomb - usually they're not that far from a major city.

Many solutions have been advanced, but none takes. So there are more of them all the time.

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 4:36 PM on 21 December 2005