Pallet shortages create a new transport challenge for agriculture
Pallet shortages add to the list of transportation challenges facing the food and agriculture industry. The lack of availability is causing concern within the industry as producers and shippers struggle to keep up with demand. Pallets are an essential part of the food supply chain, making it easier to move shipments. The United Fresh Produce Association (UFPA) said the lack of pallet availability is due to a combination of factors.
The availability of wood and the increasing cost of wood has been a major problem affecting the overall supply of pallets. Rough timber costs have increased by up to 350 percent, in turn increasing the costs of wooden pallets. There is also competition from the construction industry for lumber, limiting supplies and increasing costs. UFPA said overall pallet prices have risen more than 400% in recent weeks. There are also reports that even with increasing costs, pallet supplies are often not available.
Restricted trucking capacity has already been a factor negatively impacting the agriculture industry. The lack of trucks available to move the pallets to where they are needed adds to the complication. The length of time that non-perishable products remain in warehouses or loading docks has increased, further straining the availability of pallets. Pallet shortage issues are also compounded by ongoing difficulties with the availability of shipping containers.
Producers and shippers have tried to adapt as best as possible to the minimum supply of heavy pallets. UFPA has expressed concern that pallet shortages will have a huge impact throughout the food supply chain. Shipping delays caused by a lack of pallets put perishables at risk. The demand of buyers may not be met due to the general slowdown in transport. Finally, complications within the food supply chain can ultimately mean higher prices for consumers.