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Wednesday 15, 2021 By Coxall

The myth, the legend, the real problem with the UK supply chain issue

Supermarkets have been looking bare, but is it due to the supply chain issues or the ‘pingdemic’, what is happening now?

Getting your hands on certain products has repeatedly been an issue throughout the covid-19 pandemic but who’s to blame? Distributors, Lorry drivers, supermarket workers, suppliers, the customers… or perhaps even the entire supply chain?

How does the supply chain work?

A supply chain is a form of commerce.

“A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in supplying a product or service to a consumer”: To put it simply; the supply starts with a product and results in a customer getting their hands on said product.

There are however several steps in between these start and finish goals, and there are many problems that can disrupt the chain; from weather conditions, hold-ups with postage or customs, staff sickness…. and even pandemics.

The most straightforward chain works as follows:

Production of the product of which is to a quantity that efficiently fulfils the fluctuating demand from consumers. This also requires adequate staffing to generate and market sales as well as staff to oversee production/manufacturing. Shipment; transporting the items across the country or even the globe Distribution of the product to retail such as a supermarket Purchase; finally, the customer purchasing the product and using it.

The variety of unpredictable issues can hugely impact the supply chain, we saw supply chain issues back in March 2020 when consumers started bulk buying the essentials on their shopping list at the beginning of the pandemic. The sudden increased demand, and staffing issues when many went home to shield, was too high for the suppliers which left delays and problems throughout later stages of the supply chain too.

But what happening now?

If you’ve been into almost any supermarket recently, you would have noticed that the shelves are looking a bit bare.

But is it due to the ‘Pingdemic’?

The ‘pingdemic’ has become a recently coined term that illustrates the huge surge in workers across the country having to self-isolate following notifications from their NHS covid app.

The app recognises if an individual has been near a positive case of covid and thus encourages them to isolate: “The Bluetooth-based contact tracing app aims to alert people when they have been near someone who has tested positive for Covid-19” says Heart Many key workers, such as those who work in supermarkets or lorry drivers as well as those staffed in early production stages of the supply chain have been included in this mix.

The effect of many individuals throughout the supply chain process has meant that the pandemic has affected staffing resulting in supply chain problems.

However, it’s not just the pandemic contributing to these issues… Brexit is also causing its own disruptions. With trade deals still being negotiated, lots of changes are happening behind the scenes in the supply chain. And with the UK’s departure from the EU, companies are facing new charges particularly in the manufacturing and distribution aspects of the supply chain.

Businesses are having to adapt and change their methods so that they are legally complying with new legislation and changes to their customer's demands.

The mix of these two huge impacts has undeniably led to supply chain issues for the UK.

The Guardian revealed that this is one of Britain’s worst experiences with the supply chain issues; “Britain’s economy has been plunged into a supply chain crisis, with major retailers’ stock levels at their the lowest since 1983 as a result of worker shortages and transport disruption caused by Covid and Brexit.”

So what is next for the UK in combating its supply chain issues? Gradually, things will improve.

As the ‘pingdemic’ eases, due to isolation guidance changes, and with more steady Brexit trade deals being made, supply chains will begin to find their new path and procedures that are reliable and effective in Britain’s new trading and commerce climate. Things will find their new normal, just like the rest of us have.