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Alan Reed, executive director of the Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network, says food shortages are the new normal.
“When we talk about supply chain challenges, this is just an example of the kinds of things that food and beverage companies are dealing with all the time now,” Reed says. “Supply chains are just different.”
The Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network has about 500 members, which include Kraft Heinz, Kellogg and Tyson, as well as local food startups like Farmer’s Fridge and Simple Mills. Reed says he’s heard from members across size and niche that they’ve had issues sourcing several ingredients over the last several months. Besides cream cheese, other hard-to-find foods over the last year include beans, sugar and chocolate, he says.
Reed blamed supply chain issues on labor shortages and what he called a “changing definition of work” in manufacturing industries.
“I hear from a lot of companies that it’s really hard to get somebody to work over the weekend or work on third shift,” Reed says. “There’s both good and bad to that. There’s a shift back to making sure that workers have everything they need and a little bit of work-life balance. In some ways, that’s healthy, but we’re a culture that’s not used to that.”
The change in work habits is forcing businesses to alter how and when they order ingredients form manufacturers. As opposed to ordering ingredients on a just-in-time schedule, procurement teams should start planning and ordering further in advance, and branching out to new suppliers, Reed says. Sourcing ingredients locally could also help businesses avoid delays, he added.
“Every once in a while, until things adjust, we’re going to have outages,” Reed says. “The supply chains we have are quite fragile.”
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