Add plastic cups, paper bags and meat to the list of supply chain problems

CANAAN – BYOC. It means Bring your own mug.

In this summer of shortage, it looks like there may also be a shortage, at least in some neighborhoods, of plastic cups. This was the case recently at a Love’s Travel Center store here in Columbia County, where a sign informed customers that they only had a limited supply of plastic soda cups. A manager later reached by phone said it was an issue his supplier was having with one of his factories.

While it’s not clear whether the cup shortage is widespread or more ad hoc, it is part of a number of sporadic one-off shortages that have been observed, often in places like fast food outlets or convenience stores.

Local Taco Bell stores recently informed customers that they were temporarily running out of beef and chicken, and national reports noted that McDonald’s restaurants were encouraging restaurant patrons to use platters rather than paper bags, which were missing.

Previously, there had been a spike in the price of chicken wings, which followed a meat shortage much earlier.

Some pharmacies always inform customers that they have limited coins for change.

And who can forget the toilet paper shortage at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic over a year ago?

The kaleidoscope of scarcity seems to change direction every week, noted Jim Calvin, president of the State Convenience Stores Association.

“I can tell you that convenience stores, like a lot of businesses, have been struggling all summer with shortages of the supplies they sell and the supplies they use,” Calvin said. “Every day is something new. It has been a constant struggle.

Over the past 16 months, convenience stores have faced shortages of beer, soft drinks, snacks and meats, he said.

Some have run out of ice at times, which is not a pleasant prospect given the heatwave we are entering this week.

Most of the problems are either at the point of production – such as when large Midwestern meat-packing plants were slowed down by pandemic absences – or by supply chain safeguards, which are in part due to a lack of drivers. truck to bring the goods to market, Calvin noted. .

Shortages are uneven for no clearly visible reason. “On any given day, a store may have a full supply of this product that the store down the street doesn’t have,” he said.

The situation is unlikely to resolve quickly, in part due to changes in consumer behavior and in part to delays in exiting from previous closings.

According to the Plastics Industry Association, their industry has been hit very hard by the production problems that persist due to last winter’s snowstorm and the power outages that followed in Texas, where much of the resin of the country – a key plastic component – is manufactured.

This has led to sporadic shortages of not only plastic cups but also utensils.

Some outlets have switched to paper cups, which should appeal to environmentalists who are concerned about how much fossil fuel goes into traditional plastic production.

For now, the paper products industry, at least in New York City, appears to be recovering well, said John Bartow, president of the Empire State Forest Products Association.

“We have seen a lot more workers coming back to the workforce and we are seeing supply chains improve,” Bartow said.

[email protected] 518 454 5758 @RickKarlinTU

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Ethel J. Montes

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