Yesterday, families and friends across the United States celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll venture a guess that many of their dinner table exchanges revolved around the supply chain — especially if a seasonal favorite was missing from the spread. We’ve all seen countless recent news stories reporting on stockouts of our favorite holiday ingredients and prepared foods. However, there seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of this extraordinarily long tunnel. Experts are saying that some of the kinks in our global supply chains are finally starting to unwind.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard about a scarcity of holiday staples including turkeys, gravy, yams, alcohol, pies and pie ingredients. And as for the coveted cranberry sauce, Ocean Spray President and CEO Tom Hayes has shared his company’s supply chain challenges with Good Morning America: “We've had to be resilient this year. ... We are working day in and day out, all night in a lot of cases, to deliver products to the market.”
As I recently wrote, at the heart of supply chain issues are very often labor issues. For months, talent shortages have been putting the squeeze on companies around the world, which struggle to find and retain staff. Combined with this scarcity of workers, a recent Washington Post article says that climate change is also contributing to the chaos throughout the global supply chain.
Business Food Reporter Laura Reiley writes that many traditional Thanksgiving ingredients have been hard hit by climate and weather effects, such as droughts, wildfires and power shutdowns: “Climate change’s impact is less visible, but more enduring — and its consequences are playing out right as the food industry is struggling to avoid holiday season shortages.”
She notes that climate and weather forces will remain major threats, even as economists assert that the supply chain disruptions are beginning to work themselves out.
On that note, both Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal published stories over the past few days that say some of our global supply chain woes are beginning to fade. Bloomberg states that the supply chain crunch has peaked in the United States. “It’s beginning to look a lot like normal,” the article quips. And according to the Journal, “Global supply-chain woes are beginning to recede. … Major retailers say they have imported most of what they need for the holidays. Ocean freight rates have retreated from record levels.”
While that certainly is good news, we do have a ways to go before we’ll be able to resolve the more systemic issues. Still, it’s definitely something to be grateful for.
As ASCM pauses to give thanks, the events of the past two years continue to weigh heavily on each of us. But from the very beginning, supply chain professionals like you have stepped up to fight this battle with willingness, dedication and talent. Make no mistake: It’s you who have gotten us well on the road to recovery. You are why we are positioned to emerge better, more resilient and capable of making a difference across the globe. Consumers and patients everywhere are grateful for all that you do.
On a personal note, I thank you sincerely for being a part of ASCM, for engaging in essential dialogues and for making an impact through this network. Membership is a proven conduit to the kind of collaboration, connection and information-sharing that solves the toughest problems and touches lives. It is my sincere hope for 2022 that we can bring more people to the cause and continue working together toward ASCM’s mission to create a better world through supply chain.