As the holiday season approaches and families across the country prepare to observe the traditions that make their celebrations special, the state of the global supply chain has been in the spotlight.
The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the way goods are not only produced, but also how they move around the world. And as backups at ports rise and leave store shelves with little supply, people in the United States scramble to find the items they rely on to make the season bright.
Cesar Romero, operations manager at Latin American grocery El Condor in Logan Square, says the past 20 months have certainly caused disruption in their business, especially packaging supply issues.
“We have certainly seen a shortage of glass containers, which has led to glass paste and pepper drink bottles, which is a big hit with the Peruvian and Ecuadorian community,” Romero said. “And now the containers are taking a lot longer to get from the point of origin to Chicago. It used to take 3-4 weeks, but now it’s 2-3 months. Considering that the price of freight forwarding has at least tripled or quadrupled… now it really forces us to consider raising the prices.
Romero says the company has tried to adapt by researching different suppliers.
“We adjusted just by trying to see what other sources were selling them. Maybe not in the same packaging, ”Romero said. “Glass is what the consumer, customers, and community know, recognize and love, so… we’re basically trying to give them what they want… We’re transparent, we’re letting them know, we’re just trying to adjust. “
Maciek Nowak, acting dean of the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University in Chicago, said that while the pandemic caused the initial disruption, it has turned into a new problem.
“At this point, the most important factor is the labor shortage. There just aren’t enough people available, be it truck drivers, port staff, warehouse staff, to move all of these containers, ”Nowak said. “The job market is doing very well right now, so these aren’t necessarily the top-end jobs, and people are finding other jobs that might be better.”
Nowak says he expects the logistical disruption to be here to stay during the holiday season.
“In the long run… we’re going to need more people to get back into the industry and that could increase wages in those different areas… to attract more people. The market, you imagine, will eventually balance out, ”Nowak said. “If there is such demand, these companies are going to have to increase their wages to attract more staff, so I would expect to see that, but it takes months… I would say it’s in the middle of the year. next at best where we start to see maybe a return to normal.