Pricing is often the most critical variable in grocery, but lately with COVID and especially with the Omicron variant wave, supply chain has become the biggest challenge; you can’t price things if you don’t have things.
CNN reported recently that the supply chain dynamics spread far and wide into a circular Pandora’s Box of challenges. Sick and socially distant workers—in transportation and logistics—meant shipping, delivery, distribution, and restocking across the country have been affected. The industry is still reeling from initial adjustments to COVID as most processes specifically in dairy were not as immediately adaptable to work-from-home and social distancing dynamics. Additionally, what seemed like initial good news for retail was that the pandemic meant less restaurant eating and more cooking at home, yet that increased demand came as supply waned.
As many of you know all too well, this has led to a tight supply of many products, coupled with your own labor shortages—the National Grocers Association reports many of its members have less than 50% of their usual workforce. This combined with panic buying and hoarding from consumers has made it even more difficult to keep shelves stocked.
Identifying that the supply chain is causing turmoil in the grocery industry is one thing. Isolating which aspects are most responsible and creating strategic solutions is another. CNN reported one strategy being fanning out products with limited varieties and limited quantities to stretch out supplies between deliveries.
One of the best ways to navigate a challenged supply chain is to have a broad understanding of the supplier network. “We’re finding the biggest challenge customers are encountering is just finding a supplier to deliver,” MRV Dairy Solutions dairy expert Jerry Shannon explains. “Customers might not be able to get the same products from their current suppliers, but we know which other suppliers could support them and align them to keep those shelves more stocked.”
It has not been an easy two years with the pandemic and we are not out of the woods yet. But in times of concern and even crisis, it often helps to dive deeper into the tool chest to find the fix.