October, 2021

As many of you already know, labor shortages continue to impact every facet of global manufacturing, our industry included, from trucking and freight logistics down to the production of shipping labels. Upwards of 70 container ships still float off the coast of California, truck driver shortages persist everywhere in the US, and many commercial shipping services have reported a number of additional expenses due to a lack of existing labor. Energy prices have also risen in many regions due to the declining availability of coal. The price of crude oil has hit a 7-year high, and natural gas is similarly expensive. As of September 4th, the Washington Post estimated that there were around 8.4 million Americans unemployed, despite over 10 million available job openings. It seems as though no matter where you go, you can’t walk a few blocks without seeing at least one “Help Wanted” sign in the windows. But Americans are not alone in their struggle to recoup. 

Cedarleaf production in Canada has faced multiple challenges due to weather and transportation; the material has become generally unavailable over the last few months and unseasonably warm conditions have made yields much lower than usual. Many workers are either unprepared or unwilling to collect cedarleaf under current circumstances. Other problematic materials include Cassia from China, which is heavily reliant on manual labor for its collection process. In Vietnam, many factories have also started to shut down amid new COVID-19 restrictions, further exacerbating the global supply chain issues.

This is not to say that it’s all doom and gloom though. Short-term costs related to production and shipping have increased greatly over the last few months, but relief may be on the way in the near future. For those concerned with international freight, an investigation into major steamship lines was opened in August, alleging that high surcharges for shipping have been manufactured by the industry as a method of squeezing an already-cornered market. Immigration and the limited movement of people is also expected to stabilize over the next few months within the US, which may ease competition between American and Mexican trucking corporations. Some say America is simply in the midst of what has been dubbed the “Great Reassessment” in which many workers have reassessed their lives due to Coronavirus and found that their old jobs simply weren’t worth the physical, mental, and emotional costs. Retirement of those above 55 has also hit its highest point in the US since the 1980s, meaning that many of those who quit the workforce are not expected to return. 

It’s a turbulent time for our industry right now, but Berjé has a solid plan for the future. We are looking forward to providing you with additional updates on global issues such as these via our constantly-updated newsfeed on Berjé Online!

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Written By
Sean Farley