September Market Update: Global Shipping and Lead Times

It’s an issue that’s been seen in the UK for a while but the global shipping crisis isn’t going away any time soon.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the disruption to global supply chains has been massive. For the last 18 months the interruption caused due to container shortages, port congestion, port closures due to covid outbreaks and the cost of shipping rising to a record high, has caused havoc with global supply chains. Combined with driver shortages, Brexit and with Christmas now on the horizon, the demand for consumer goods is only going to get greater and the situation will only get worse as we move into 2022.

You may have already started to see issues appear in your supply chain, but with the shipping crisis worsening, driver shortages still causing problems, as we all approach the run up to Christmas and demand rises further, what mitigations can you put in place to ease the burden that will undoubtedly affect your business?

Having spoken to our suppliers, shippers and colleagues across the industry, we are now confident and preparing for the situation to worsen before it improves, and to be having an impact until at least Easter 2022. The timeline below highlights some significant events that will impact the current situation. Over the coming months we face the demands of Christmas and the festive season to absorb into the global supply chain, Brexit rule changes coming into force on 1st January, leading to customs delays and disruption at ports; then moving into 2022 with Chinese New Year before we head into Spring and Easter.


Anecdotally, we are already seeing shelves are starting to appear empty across supermarkets in the UK, and multi-national restaurant chains are removing items from menus as they are struggling to get produce. We are also learning that loads are not leaving the factories on time due to drivers not turning in for work, and manufacturers’ production already full for the rest of the year and Q1 starting to fill already.

Nationally there are staff shortages adding to the mix, and we are hearing first-hand from our customers how staff shortages are affecting them – a further layer to exacerbate the already turbulent outlook for the food industry moving into the pre-Christmas busy production period.

We are working closely with our suppliers, and our customers to minimise the impact and plan as far ahead into Q4, covering Christmas and into 2022, as we can, to guarantee supply. Our plan is to work hand in hand with our customers, ensuring their requirements are with us ahead of time, so we can hold and guarantee their stock up until Christmas and beyond. Lead times are longer due to the global shipping outlook, and therefore we want to ensure we are holding stock for as many customers as possible to enable their operations to run as smoothly as they can. We’d therefore suggest planning your requirements now to cover the remainder of the year and into 2022; help us to help you guarantee supply.

Speak to us today about your stock levels, supply chain and requirements for the remainder of 2021. We are here to help you through these uncertain times.

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