Recent survey finds supply chain pressures continue to stymie members

Supply chain challenges impinging the ability to fulfill orders, control costs and grow are expected to be the same or worse this year for manufacturers in the $15 billion U.S. foodservice equipment and supplies industry. A recent survey of NAFEM members identified the rising costs of shipping and supply shortages as member top concerns, followed closely by tariffs and international shipping delays.

“Supply shortages continue across the board and transportation issues also remain in play,” said NAFEM Vice President, Regulatory & Technical Affairs Charlie Souhrada, CFSP. Escalating workforce challenges are adding to this complicated landscape and putting relentless pressure on NAFEM members’ abilities to meet the equipment and supplies needs of the $931+ billion food-away-from home market.

NAFEM has conducted its supply survey three times since April 2021. While the pressures have shifted slightly, shipping costs and supply shortages have consistently been the most pressing concerns reported.

While respondents reported decreased operational impacts of transportation and a slight reduction in delays across all modes, 98% of respondents report that shipping challenges continue to impact their abilities to fulfill orders.

Respondents reporting difficulties accessing essential steel and aluminum has lessened slightly since the previous August 2021 survey – down from 75% to 66%. Fewer respondents also reported semi-conductor shortages – down from 43% to 32%, although plastics shortages remained largely the same. Additionally, delays in receiving component parts, or inputs, continue to cause delays in the delivery of finished goods.

NAFEM also asked its members about workforce challenges during this most recent survey. More than 80% of respondents expect to increase their workforce in 2022, yet the same number report difficulties in recruiting and retaining employees. Overall, workforce challenges impact respondents’ abilities to grow (83%), fulfill orders (75%), control costs (51%) and compete (37%).

“The survey results provide some encouraging news but confirm that we cannot take our foot off the gas,” said Souhrada. “This data sets our priorities for 2022 as we work with elected and appointed officials to help mitigate these supply chain concerns so our members can increase the good-paying manufacturing jobs they provide in communities across the country.”

NAFEM surveyed 405 member-company contacts from Jan. 18 – Feb. 4. Results represent a 12% response rate.