Why Supply Chain Issues Continue In 2022

If you have been to the grocery store recently, in fact, at just about any point in the past two years, you have might have noticed that many of the shelves are completely empty. The problem is not that the employees who work at the store are lazy but rather that there have been breakdowns in the supply chain that have disrupted shipments of goods to the stores. 

supply chain crisis
Photo Credit: Anna Shvets / Source: Pexels

Is Covid To Blame For The Supply Chain Issues?

The supply chain, or how goods make their way from production to store shelves, has been broken for a long time. When the pandemic first hit, many consumer goods — perhaps most noticeably toilet paper — were no longer in stock because the faults that already existed in the supply chain suddenly became very disruptive. One of the biggest faults in the supply chain is that so much of it was overseas, in countries where they could manufacture goods much more cheaply than in the United States. Whereas most consumer goods used by Americans were produced in the United States a century ago, outsourcing has led Bangladesh, Kenya, and especially China to manufacture them. 

When the covid pandemic hit, countries quickly closed their borders and sent workers home in government-enforced lockdowns as part of an effort to control the virus’ spread. One result was that the products manufactured in different countries became stuck in those countries, leaving empty shelves in the United States. Many ports also closed or severely reduced the number of ships coming in and out. This mitigation effort also led to products not getting to their final destinations promptly. 

supply chain
Photo Credit: Tom Fisk / Source: Pexels

Exposing The Truth Behind The Supply Chain Crisis

A supply chain that relies on overseas production for goods ranging from shoes to food is not set up to handle the crises that have been plaguing the global economy since the onset of the covid pandemic. Now with the omicron variant running through the world like a match to dry brush, a very similar scenario of workers staying home and borders being closed is repeating itself. 

Supply Chain Issues Coupled With Labor Shortages

Nevertheless, in January 2022, the situation is compounded by labor shortages and winter storms in the United States. Labor strikes, sick workers, and staffing shortfalls — all part of the “Great Resignation” that has led to labor crises in almost every sector — have led to ships waiting for weeks, sometimes months, for goods to be unloaded at ports in the United States. Too few truck drivers and winter storms causing highways to become impassable have meant that goods already in the United States have great difficulty reaching stores.

resignation
Photo Credit: Simone Hogan / Source: Shutterstock

The Real Reason For The “Great Resignation”

The reasons for empty store shelves are not covid; instead, covid has caused the real reasons to become exposed. So much production takes place overseas that any global disruption will cause goods not to reach their final destination. The “Great Resignation” that has led workers to quit their jobs en masse began after covid lockdowns lifted and reveals that workers are, by and large, so dissatisfied with their jobs that they do not mind not getting paid at all. These challenges must be systematically addressed before expecting supply chains to be fully functional again. 

Sources:
“How Companies Are Overhauling Supply Chains to Ease Bottlenecks.” The Wall Street Journal. January 13, 2022.
“Inside America’s Food Supply Chain Under Covid-19.” Forbes. May 22, 2020.
“What Caused America’s Supply Chain Crunch?” 60 Minutes. November 14, 2021.
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