Tensions on the U.S. supply chain, including a shortage of workers, mean U.S. Thanksgiving gatherings may have to skimp on classics like prank.
“Meals, gifts and celebrations will be very different this year as families face a wave of high prices, limited inventory and minimal customer service,” said a member of the Agriculture Committee of bedroom. Glenn thompson (R-Pa.) At a hearing Wednesday.
Grocery retailers and wholesalers are already receiving out-of-stock notices on canned gravy, frozen pies, pastry shells and stuffing, said Greg Ferrara, President and CEO of the National Grocers Association.
Growing supply chain disruptions are forcing Americans to take a closer look at the nuanced journey of their meals to get to their plates. The food industry, which experiences the same shortage of workers as the economy in general, is struggling with a shortage of truck drivers, bakers and supermarket workers. Ports and on-hold transportation routes have also exacerbated shipping delays.
“Failure to alleviate port bottlenecks could mean rancid ingredients,” said Ed Cinco, testifying on behalf of the American Bakers Association.
The Biden administration has taken a series of measures to ease supply chain congestion, such as provide funding to international partners to simplify customs and clearance procedures and facilitate 24/7 operations at two ports in Southern California.
Several trade groups have called on Congress to fix the problems by passing a measure (HR 4996) which would tackle shipping problems. Rep. Jean Garamendi (D-California) and Dusty Johnson (RS.D.), who introduced the bill, calls it the first major update to federal regulations for the international shipping industry in more than two decades.
Lack of truck driver, grocer
Business groups are also calling for federal policies to help tackle the labor shortage.
Ferrara, Cinco and Jon Samson of the American Trucking Associations have all said the upcoming federal mandate on the Covid-19 vaccine for employers – which has not yet taken effect – is scaring workers away.
The trucking industry is short of 80,000 drivers, Samson said, adding that more than 80% of U.S. communities rely solely on truckers to meet their freight needs, getting perishable food to grocery store shelves and stores. school kitchens. He said underfunded infrastructure is hurting his industry as well.
The aging workforce in the baking industry is going for good, said Cinco, who works at Schwebel Baking Co. The high levels of turnover in his business are due to “a need to operate 24 hours a day. 24 and 7 days a week, ”he said.
Grocers and wholesalers are also struggling to fill jobs, with the remaining employees described as “mentally and physically exhausted” by Ferrara. Supermarkets have adapted with shorter hours and increased wages.
One bright spot: Since so much of America’s food is grown domestically, bottlenecks at ports have largely spared consumers’ grocery lists, he said.
Ferrara warned US consumers against panicking buying, which he called “the greatest risk to food availability” – even more than current supply chain problems.
To contact the reporter on this story: Megan U. Boyanton in Washington at [email protected]