Pallet shortages are adding to the list of transportation challenges facing the food and agriculture industry. The lack of availability is causing concern within the industry, as growers and shippers struggle to keep up with demand. Pallets serve as a critical component within the food supply chain, making shipments easier to move. The United Fresh Produce Association (UFPA) has indicated that the lack of pallet availability is due to a combination of factors.
Availability of lumber and the increasing cost of lumber has been a significant issue affecting overall pallet supplies. Raw lumber costs have increased as much as 350 percent, in turn, increasing costs for wooden pallets. There is also competition from the construction sector for lumber, limiting supplies and rising costs. UFPA has indicated that overall pallet prices have increased more than 400 percent in recent weeks. There are also reports that even with the increased costs, supplies of pallets are often not available.
Tight trucking capacity has already been a factor negatively impacting the agricultural industry. The lack of trucks that are available to relocate pallets to where they are needed is adding to the complication. The amount of time that non-perishable products sit in warehouses or loading docks has increased, putting further strain on pallet availability. Issues of pallet shortages are being compounded by the ongoing struggles related to shipping container availability as well.
Growers and shippers have been working to adapt as best as possible to the minimal supply of heavy-duty pallets. UFPA has voiced concern that the pallet shortages will have a considerable impact all the way down the food supply chain. Delays in shipping caused by a lack of pallets put perishable goods at risk of spoiling. Buyer demand may not be met due to the overall slowdown of transport. Finally, the complications within the food supply chain may ultimately mean higher prices for consumers.