Current pallet shortages are a growing concern that could have a significant impact on growers of fresh fruits and vegetables. In an open letter released May 19, numerous ag organizations, including United Fresh Produce Association, Western Growers and others, outlined their concerns related to this shortage and called for temporary modifications or exceptions to pallet requirements.
The letter states that, “Although conversations are occurring within the North American (and global) industry relative to the current acute pallet shortages, we believe that many do not yet realize the factors impacting the situation and the potential scope of the issue, including the availability of produce to consumers.”
The following issues were presented as those impacting pallet availability including
The organizations stressed that the lack of pallets is adding stress to a supply chain that is already facing significant challenges, which include a lack of available trucks and shipping containers, ongoing labour challenges, fluctuating fuel costs, pandemic-related challenges and a pending shortage of resin used to make reusable containers and pallets. Expectations are that the pallet shortage will continue for months, perhaps for the balance of 2021, at a time when many North American produce items are just beginning seasonal harvests and shipments.
The letter includes a sample of the scope of the issue, compiling the following information:
“If there is not a concerted effort across the supply chain to ensure pallet availability for shipment of produce, there is little doubt that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for the grower/shipper community to meet buyer, and ultimately consumer, demand for produce,” the letter continues. “Simultaneously, growers and shippers are working hard to remain compliant with pallet requirement specifications where they can, but this is proving challenging. Temporary modifications or exceptions to pallet requirements, as long as they do not jeopardize safety, would prove advantageous until this pallet shortage is resolved.”
This letter is intended, in part, to act as a catalyst for industry awareness and to ensure a consistent understanding of the issue and to encourage discussions and efforts towards a path forward.
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