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Catastrophic supply chain disruptions continue to cause devastating shortages all over America, halting the production of multiple goods – ranging from cars to computers, appliances, and furniture; and even more alarmingly, it is triggering worrying food shortages across several parts of the nation. Numerous staples are already disappearing from grocery shelves, just as seen in the early days of the health crisis, and consumers are being left without critical everyday products. Consequently, the mismatch between supply and demand is boosting skyrocketing prices that are likely to persist for months. Right now, the U.S. is finally assessing how serious it was the impact of the Texas freeze and the Suez blockage on supply chains. While thousands of crops have been completely destroyed due to the arctic temperatures, shipping delays and a container shortage are hampering retailers’ ability to restock on canned and dried food, coffee, meat, spices, and toilet paper. One more time, American consumers are headed to a tough shopping season as the widespread scarcity of products is becoming the “new normal”. And that’s what we’re going to discuss in this video.
Since last year’s holiday season, major U.S. retailers have been struggling to restock on a wide range of food staples. Walmart, Costco, Target, and H-E-B are reporting shortages of goods such as baking goods, ramen, milk, cheese, peanut butter, brisket, canned soup, beans, and dried pasta that started to happen in that period and have been lingering since then as the recent disruptions continue to add pressure on grocery chains all across the nation. In fact, grocers have been limiting purchases due to dwindling stocks just as we’ve seen during the early days of the health crisis.
A coffee shortage is also being registered after the Suez blockage delayed the delivery of tons of raw coffee beans to European ports, which traditionally sends processed powdered coffee to the U.S. A month after an unprecedented chillwave blanketed the Lone Star state with snow, retailers and food banks are concerned there won’t be enough fresh produce to meet the fast-increasing demand over the next months. Many Texan farmers lost their entire crops to the ravaging cold temperatures and millions of gallons of milk had to be dumped too.
The shipping container deficit problem has been playing out for months due to high demand from China and the effects of the sanitary outbreak on the global economy, and it will affect basically anything you see in the stores. The problem is also responsible for delaying the delivery of wood pulp to Suzano SA, the leading firm in manufacturing toilet paper. Suzano CEO Walter Schalka told Bloomberg shipping problems threaten to leave store shelves tissue-less once again.
Another effect of wood shortages can be seen in the continuous rise of lumber prices, which have risen almost 200%, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Futures contracts in lumber are now being settled at over $1,000 per thousand feet of board, roughly four times their April 2020 prices. Wood is also a key material for manufacturing furniture, and since the delay in availability has been made worse by congestion at ports in Southern California, customers are already seeing furniture-delivery dates delayed for several months.
The strained supply chains are now experiencing a global shortage of semiconductors, a component used in a wide range of consumer goods, from smartphones and laptops to video games. Consultant AlixPartners has estimated the chip shortage could cost automakers $61 billion in lost sales this year. The latest setbacks could further delay an expected second-quarter rebound in output. GM has recently announced that worsening supply chain issues have led to closures of eight of its assembly plants, forcing a mass lay-off of about 10,000 workers.
As our leaders keep failing to assess such problems, the United States is entering an era when shortages and supply chain disruptions will become the new normal. The fact that trillions in fiscal stimulus have been recently pumped into the economy and inflation has started to skyrocket won’t help at all to curb this situation. Instead of boosting the economy, the stimulus money is creating several price bubbles and contributing to the downfall of American consumer’s purchasing power. It is certain that we will be seeing social uprisings in the coming months if shortages hit a critical point, and you should keep tuned with the next developments of this menacing crisis, here, on Epic Economist.
Epic website: https://www.epiceconomist.com
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