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News Round-Up: Supply Chains

Updated: May 19, 2021


Below is a compilation of recent news, reports, and analysis that explore topics related to supply chains.

According to a survey of roughly 800 companies, 44% of small businesses reported temporary shortages or other supply-chain problems in March. The current supply chain issues are taking a heavy toll on these companies, which have fewer resources to absorb or push back on price increases and less leverage to pass along the higher costs to customers. This article highlights the multiple forces driving supply-chain woes for small businesses and their impact, with a focus on U.S. businesses.

After Suez Canal Crisis, Freight Rates Are Sky High. When Will Fees Fall? - Sourcing Journal - April 2021 While we are all well aware of the immediate chaos caused by the ship stuck in the Suez Canal, its repercussions are still being felt across global supply chains. According to a new report from Everstream Analytics, port congestion is expected to remain a concern until at least mid-May and carrier schedules are unlikely to return to near-normal operations before mid-June, particularly on the Asia-Europe route. Supply Chain Dive came to a similar conclusion in its recent brief.

Companies worldwide expect supply-chain constraints resulting from logistics backlogs and the global semiconductor shortage to continue for much of this year. The author of this short economic update looks to specific companies such as Tesla, Sony, and Crocs, and concerns about their ability to meet demand given ongoing supply-chain bottlenecks.

This article puts supply chain challenges in context for the nonwovens industry. In addition to the freight and cargo challenges raised in other articles, this author also places blame on labor shortages in both the United States and Europe.

Global air cargo demand continued to outperform pre-Covid levels, with demand up 4.4% in March and reaching the highest level recorded since such data began being tracked in 1990, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This article includes data on air cargo in North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East.

Supply Chains are on the Cusp of a Data-fed Revolution. Here's How Businesses Can Succeed. - World Economic Forum - May 2021 This analysis by the World Economic Forum — an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas — argues supply chains are about to face great changes through automation. It suggests business strategies will come to rely on predictions based on the flows of world events, global supply chains, and smart technologies.

Six Charts Show How a Pandemic Upended Retail Supply Chains - Retail Dive - March 2021 As the title indicates, this article paints visual representations of Covid’s impact on major retail stores, including their efforts to increase e-commerce, “ship from store,” and curbside pickup.

Despite long-term diversification trends in the global supply chain continuing to shift away from the world’s second-largest economy, China remains the top sourcing destination for many companies. While the focus of this article is on China — it explains both why businesses may be wary of the country and why others will stick around — it also examines the feasibility of Vietnam and India as alternative sourcing locations.

Related: Japan, India, and Australia have teamed up to launch the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, which many interpret as an effort to counter China’s dominance on trade in the Indo-Pacific.

This article addresses the compounded problem of delayed supply chains and rising demand for products. It offers examples of how companies are addressing inventory challenges including price increases, global sourcing efforts, improving yields in factories, and leaning on new cloud technologies.

Finally, a Tufts professor of international relations told the Washington Post today, that “global supply chains will be fine.” We usually avoid opinion pieces, but wanted to end on a high note for our glass-half-full readers.

Additional Reading in Behind the Seams:

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