Over the last year, it has been increasingly tricky to maintain a normal supply of raw materials. As producers and distributors, we’ve had to be constantly on our toes, vigilant of the smallest fluctuations which might indicate bigger issues that could affect our customers, thereby mitigating risks coming from many different directions on a weekly basis. You could say that we’ve been forced to become acrobats of sorts, in recent times!
The COVID-19 pandemic caused labour shortages and stoppages in almost all areas of production globally – from timber to plastic goods – leading to raw material shortages across most industries, which just do not seem to be righting themselves as quickly as we had all hoped.
Furthermore, disruption of reliable supply lines as a result of lockdown measures; the staggered and volatile recoveries by country and by region; and extreme weather in numerous regions; have been further causes of difficulty in obtaining raw materials as usual over the last 12 months. All this has resulted in the cost of shipping increasing in a radical manner, the like of which Industrial Packaging has never before experienced, over the three generations of our business.
While we feel lucky not to have seen tenfold increases – which has been the case along some global transport routes, as reported by ICIS – costs have been steadily going up and up over the last year. These increased transport costs and delivery lead times have affected our supply chain – like that of so many other manufacturers – since the pandemic recovery phase began.
As well as raw material and transport costs rising, there are many other factors currently affecting the supply of goods. These include incidents such as the Suez Canal blockage, an ongoing shortage of HGV drivers, and quarantine and closures at ports on resurgent coronavirus infections.