A company co-founded by an MIT alumnus to track business shipping is reporting on a pressing contemporary issue: the decline of shipments of Easter bunnies in the runup to Easter.
According to Panjiva, shipments of bunnies to the United States has dropped off 33 percent in the past four years while Easter egg products jumped 21 percent in a single year, notes a Boston Globe article. You may not care much about the bunny market (chocolate or plush) or the fact that Guinness shipments quadrupled for St. Patrick’s day 2011 (compared to 2010), but you might be interested in how such assessments could help finetune a supply chain and boost business efficiency and profitably.
Panjiva was launched by MIT doctoral student James Psota SM ’06 in response to a need facing his friend, Josh Green. In 2005, Green was working at the electronics firm E Ink (a spinoff of the MIT Media Lab) when he was asked to find a component supplier in China. That was a difficult task—potential suppliers were plentiful, which to trust? Psota felt he could design software that would do for importing what Google has done for the Web: make search smarter, according to a FastCompany article. So he developed software that analyzes bills of lading for ships bringing goods to the United States, and the pair founded Panjiva in 2006.
These days, in addition to bunny futures, Panjiva’s research tracks detailed information from multiple data sources on 1.5 million companies in 190 countries. Recent results on the website show a modest uptick in global trade activity in March, for example, and you can check a product, say, wool sweaters, in the TrendSpotting feature to see sales movements in the global marketplace. For Panjiva’s moment-to-moment takes on global markets, check their tweets.