Are pandemic-related supply chain issues still a problem? Some companies want you to think so

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard
Published: Updated:

Pandemic-related supply chain issues are far and few between now. Yet, experts say the phrase is still many companies’ go-to excuse and customers shouldn’t take it at face value.

Grocery shelves empty because of pandemic-related supply chain problems
Flour missing from grocery store shelves as bread baking popularized at the start of the pandemic

Estero shopper Kenna Graves heard that excuse a lot during the pandemic.

“It was super annoying. I’d order something and the order went through and everything. Then they’d email a few hours later saying ‘we actually don’t have it,'” Graves remembered. “It’s super annoying because first of all they take the money out of the account and then it takes longer to refund it than it did to take the money out of the account.”

Florida Gulf Coast University Supply Chain Management Professor Dr. Piyush Shah said pandemic-related supply issues are fading, but some companies still use the phrase as a crutch.

supply chain problems
Products stuck on shipping containers due to pandemic-related supply chain problems

“[There are] many such examples where businesses have made mistakes,” Dr. Shah continued. “And now they can easily use the excuse of supply chain problems, and no one will question them.”

Dr. Shah mentioned one example of a popular hot chili sauce company that blamed supply chain issues and global warming for why no one could find the condiment on grocery store shelves at the end of 2023.

“Well we found the real story. They had a long term contract with a chili supplier and they were trying to save pennies and were trying to buy chilis from the open market instead of buying from the established supplier,” Dr. Shah clarified. “They messed up in that move. That’s why [they] didn’t have chilis. That was not a supply chain problem. There were enough chilis in the market.”

He added companies also use headlines to back up the supply chain excuse and raise prices, like when a container ship blocked the Suez Canal and prevented other ships from getting through for six days.

“They said we’ll have supply chain problems in the United States. Well, the US is not served extensively by the Suez Canal. Only eight percent of our imports come through the Suez Canal,” Dr. Shah added.

So what can you do the next time you hear that excuse? You don’t have to pay the high prices for a product that becomes a company claims and blames a kink in the supply chain. Dr. Shah recommends that you educate yourself and then find an alternative product.

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