Supply chain issues have been made much worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The economic environment has become more challenging, and sustainability is being emphasized.
Customers can expect to see shortages of products on shelves and price increases of those products, writes an expert.
In the run-up to Christmas, there was considerable anxiety about shortages of festive food and gifts. Trade friction was already at the core of the Brexit debate, and supply chain issues have been made much worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, a computer chip shortage had a knock-on effect across many industries. Concerns have also been raised about everything from lithium supply for electric vehicle batteries to restaurant food supplies to even coffee shortages.
Never has the issue of supply chain management been so prominent. The question now is what challenges supply chains face in the year ahead. So what can we expect?
Complex, fragmented, under pressure
Products reach consumers through a chain of companies involved, which typically includes manufacturers, logistics firms – who provide storage, distribution and transport – and retailers. Not surprisingly, the whole system is highly complex.
There’s a whole philosophy of contemporary supply chain management (SCM) concerned with making supply chains much more integrated than they used to be. Done well, it can significantly improve the overall performance of companies, as well as benefiting the economy and society. Yet this long-term effort to make the whole system more efficient has been set back by a whole host of challenges in global supply chains.
Three big issues became particularly apparent in 2021. First, and probably the most obvious to many of us, was the unprecedented pressures on global supply chains created by the COVID pandemic and the subsequent series of lockdowns and restrictions which varied in their timing and severity from country to country.