Ongoing supply chain issues in the restaurant industry

As consumers return to restaurants in droves, supply chain issues in the restaurant industry persist in the wake of the COVID-19 health pandemic. As more independent and franchised QSR, Fast Casual and full-service restaurants reopen to standard capacity, growing supply chain issues and problems have made it difficult for business owners, dealers and industry operators.

For example, receiving spare parts and new equipment on time has not only been tricky and difficult, but keeping up with the growing number of foodservice supply chain delays and disruptions has also been a huge hurdle. Plus, did you know that the continued demand for takeout has exacerbated shortages of items, such as coffee cups, plastic straws, and takeout containers?

Times have been tough for the restaurant and catering industry. From labor shortages to complete closure, it was a time of upheaval for many foodservice operators. And in many markets, the variables and factors driving prices up seem overwhelming. There is no doubt that the economic reopening in the United States has been bumpy and uncertain. Stocks are sold out; causing large restocking orders as well as premiums on short-term deliveries of various raw materials.

For the restaurant industry, supply chain issues and challenges have increased food costs and shortages of key ingredients, such as chicken and corn. Supply lines are blocked, which has created pockets of shortages and additional costs that are ultimately passed on to consumers.

COVID-19 and supply chains

As COVID-19 infection rates spread among labor-intensive side-by-side employees, restaurants began to suffer. Keep in mind that agricultural production and meat packing in the United States have been particularly hard hit. Jobs such as meatpacking plant production, field work and food delivery have become increasingly dangerous as coronavirus infection has become a common concern.

Many people still fear returning to the labor market; many quit their jobs. This “big quit” is certainly reducing the manpower available for various labor-intensive industries.

International trade supply and demand using ocean freight has also seen significantly slower delivery times due to COVID protocols and standards. In addition, labor restrictions and shortages on vessels have created congestion in some countries’ routine collection and delivery procedures.

Poor communication between different partners in the food supply chain

Although advances in technology have improved and streamlined communication channels in recent years, there are still many gaps in the US food supply chain. Note that there are multiple actors or stakeholders involved throughout the supply chain. With so many companies, people, and transportation methods and procedures, there are times when things slip through the cracks. There are many instances where different people within the supply chain of the same product or commodity never interact? This lack of clear communication is often problematic and can lead to many obstacles, such as delays in product movement, increased bacterial growth or spoilage. Additionally, catering equipment is no exception to the supply challenge. A recent survey by the National Restaurant Association found that 95% of restaurants in the United States had experienced significant supply delays or shortages in recent months, which is concerning. Remember that equipment, such as ovens, has become almost impossible to secure and some crucial parts take six months to arrive.

Final Thoughts

While the challenges and issues discussed above seem complicated and overwhelming, they provide opportunities for the industry to create failsafes to prevent or control future issues rather than simply tape the situation over. Professional carriers and shippers – growers, suppliers and manufacturers must work together to solve food supply chain issues and challenges to achieve their goals through open communication and transparency.

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