YORK COUNTY, S.C. — As mask mandates are done away with and COVID-19 restrictions are eased, supply chain issues continue to persist beyond the impacts of the virus.
“Here we are two years after those initial factories shut down,” Tom Bartholomy, president of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Southern Piedmont and Western N.C., said. “We’re still dealing with pieces and parts of it and will be for some time.”
According to the BBB, there are a number of factors causing disruptions to the supply chain, including shutdowns that led to halted production and laid-off workers, component shortages, fewer goods produced, increased demand and spending, shipping container pile-ups, clogged ports, labor shortages, and more.
“It’s really affecting almost every part of our lives from simple food supplies that we would usually buy to, you know, buying a new car or having things done to your house,” Bartholomy said.
The Community Cafe, a nonprofit in York County, has felt the impact of the supply chain shortages between its three locations and food truck.
“It has not been easy,” Mary Rasmussen, director of marketing and community outreach for Community Cafe, said. “We have a contract with a company to provide food and supplies for us, and we’re seeing a 20 to 25% increase if they have the item.”
Rasmussen said supply chain issues have led to a lot of last-minute menu changes with whatever items their supplier can provide them.
The Community Cafe has seen demand for its meals increase over the last several months as the monthly child tax credit ended for some families and the price of everyday groceries has gone up.
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Beyond food supply issues, the nonprofit has also been struggling to find to-go containers for soup, a popular item it likes to serve.
“We aren’t able to produce that as often as we would like because we just can’t get soup containers,” Rasmussen said. “So we can do them in-house, but on the food truck and to-go and delivery, it’s just mostly not happening.”
Rasmussen said the nonprofit is in need of the to-go soup containers, volunteers, and donations as it navigates the supply chain shortages and increases in prices for goods.
As supply chain issues persist, the BBB is recommending businesses plan for more disruptions to address manufacturing and supplier delays, streamline what you offer, create realistic expectations for customers and the public, offer incentives for when an item may be back in stock, invest in technology, and improve your local network to find business resources closer to home.
“You don’t really know just what’s coming next as far as what’s going to be a supply chain issue,” Bartholomy said.
As for consumers, Bartholomy has this advice, “You adapt. Our favorite search right now on Google is what’s a good alternative to… 'X?'"
The BBB recommends consumers shop around for merchandise, conserve to keep from stocking up as often, maintain big-ticket items like appliances and cars so you won’t need to buy a replacement soon, try new brands, and express gratitude to workers who are doing their best to provide service amid this trying time.