The TricorBraun Pulse - September/October 2021
A Message from our Chief Commercial Officer and Chief Operations Officer
Just when you thought the supply chain challenges couldn’t get worse, the holidays are coming. With fewer than 100 days until Christmas, high demand is adding to global supply chain challenges as retailers rush to stock up. Meanwhile, an emerging energy crisis in China is creating rolling blackouts that have slowed down production and caused some factories to close temporarily. Add to that clogged sea lanes and tight labor markets, disruptions and spot shortages will continue to impact the supply chain for CPG companies—and one bad hurricane or typhoon could make things worse.
Our entire TricorBraun team understands how demanding these challenges are to your business and we are committed to helping you navigate. Please contact us to see how we can further support you. We appreciate and value your business—and we’re here to help.
The Big Picture
Global transportation continues to be clogged, with typhoons in East Asia and high demand in the US creating new disruptions. For example, two key ports in China experienced weather-related suspensions of operations at some terminals in mid-September. Meanwhile, US retailers ramping up for the holiday season are facing shipping backlogs at West Coast ports that are higher than during the height of the pandemic. Rail disruptions and truck shortages are adding to the problems, resulting in sky-high domestic shipping rates.
- While rates have continued to increase slightly, signs are pointing toward ocean shipping rates leveling out over the coming months.
- While Oakland has cleared its backlog, as of late September there were a record 70+ ships sitting in San Pedro Bay outside Los Angeles awaiting berth.
- The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced expanded hours during which trucks can pick up and return containers, a move designed to improve freight throughput and reduce delays.
- US rail networks remain congested at intermodal terminals as consumer demand remains high. An ongoing shortage of labor hampers unloading at distribution centers. This also affects the railroads’ ability to move containers in and out of terminals in a timely fashion.
- Rates continue to increase for domestic truck shipping and are likely to stay high through the holiday season.
- We have worked with customers on the East Coast to shift imports among Florida ports (Jacksonville, Miami, and Tampa) to improve costs and minimize transit times and other disruptions.
- We are exploring alternative ports and adding new partners as needed to improve transportation rates and maintain high levels of performance. On some occasions we have shipped to an alternative port and trucked the container a longer distance to keep our customers supplied.
- We’re helping keep overall shipping rates down by negotiating in-country and aggregating demand, thus reducing rate increases that would otherwise be passed along to our customers.
A Record Number of Cargo Ships Are Stuck Outside LA. What’s Happening?
San Pedro Bay Ports Announce New Measures to Speed Cargo Throughput
Typhoon Forces Two of China’s Busiest Ports to Suspend Some Operations
The Big Picture
The supply environment continues to offer challenges resulting from material and labor shortages coupled with an emerging energy crisis in China. High demand and long lead times for liners and large diameter closures continue. There is some good news, as robust domestic PET capacity offers an opportunity to switch from glass to plastic to avoid tight domestic supplies and international freight costs and delays.
- A power generation challenge in China is creating electrical outages and straining the ability of factories there to meet export demand.
- Glass supplies remain tight due to continued strong demand.
- Domestic suppliers are still struggling with labor shortages, resulting in fewer people to work manufacturing lines—a problem exacerbated by a shortage of drivers to get products to store shelves.
- There is new PET and HDPE rigid packaging capacity coming on the market.
- We’re monitoring the energy crisis in China and will keep you updated as we learn more and better understand the implications on supply, materials, and production.
- We’re found domestic vendors for customers looking to shift their packaging to North America to reduce lead times and avoid international freight costs.
- We’ve identified alternative liners and provided samples for qualification when needed. We’re exploring alternatives to liners, including neckbands and tamper-evident closures.
- We’re helping customers interested in switching their packaging from glass to plastic as a result of robust PET supplies. Ask us if you’re interested in exploring PET as an alternative to glass.
- We’re leveraging our extensive warehousing capability to help ensure supply availability for our customers. Ask about how a warehousing agreement could help you alleviate supply disruptions.
The World Is Still Short of Capacity. Get Used to It.
Get ready for an Expensive Revenge Christmas
Power Outages Hit China, Threatening the Economy and Christmas
The Big Picture
Prices for most resins started to level off in September, and forecasters expect price decreases in the fourth quarter. The great unknown is weather as one severe storm in the Gulf of Mexico could disrupt manufacturing and send prices upward again. Meanwhile bio-resin supplies have tightened and aluminum prices have soared.
- The markets for virgin PE, PET, HDPE, and LDPE have begun to flatten, and PP prices decreased slightly in September. Analysts expect prices to decrease in the 4th quarter, but one hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast could impact this forecast.
- Post-consumer curbside bales and PCR resin prices have also started to level off.
- Supplies of bio-resins have started to tighten as demand for alternative materials increases.
- Aluminum prices are at 10-year highs following political unrest in Guinea and decreased production capacity in China. Tinplate and other metals continue to see increases.
- We’re working to qualify alternative resin sources.
- We’re assessing the availability, lead times, and scalability of bio-resins, and we’re actively testing products to understand performance in various packaging formats. We’re also identifying manufacturers who will run these new resins in their operations.
- We’re working with customers interested in switching their packaging from aluminum cans to PET.
Recycled Paper Prices Continue Uptick as Plastic Levels Off
Aluminum Prices Are Being Driven High By Constrained Supply
Aluminum Hits Decade High After Guinea Coup Imperils Bauxite Supplies
The Big Picture
While the consumer price index rose less than expected last month, analysts are mixed over what happens next. Already-high consumer demand is ramping up further as the holidays approach, likely bringing with it heightened inflation as Christmas shoppers sprint to the finish. Meanwhile, high transportation costs, rising labor costs, and commodity price uncertainty mean producing, procuring, and shipping products is making it harder and harder for CPG brands to hold their prices steady. While some businesses have chosen to pass on higher labor, ingredients, and shipping costs to consumers, others are getting creative in exploring all available options.
US Inflation Starting to Look Like a Stimulus-Led Outlier
Costco, Nike, and FedEx Are Warning There’s More Inflation Set to Hit Consumers as Holidays Approach
Rising Shipping Costs Are Companies’ Latest Inflation Riddle
Our team is working day and night to help you manage today’s uncertainty, and we’ll continue to harness our expansive resources and industry-leading capabilities to serve you. As your global packaging partner, we will continue to leverage our:
- Unmatched purchasing power, access, and scale, including a vast supply network of more than 1,000 domestic and international suppliers
- Financial strength to make investments that support supply
- Strong relationships with strategic suppliers to increase capacity
- Stable shipping connections, to move supply even in tough times like these
- Team of sourcing experts, on the ground throughout the world, seeking new product options and negotiating supply for your benefit
- Dedicated in-house quality professionals, preventing issues and assuring standards
- Expert supply and demand forecasting to help you plan ahead, and strengthen continuity of your supply
For more, contact your TricorBraun packaging consultant or email@example.com.