Freight forwarding companies remain committed to delivering a suitably festive Yuletide, with the British International Freight Association (BIFA) amid a "seasonal whirlwind of worry and rumour" that this year’s Christmas festivities in around ten weeks may just not happen as a result of the current supply chain challenges.
Robert Keen, Director General of BIFA says it is time to maintain a sense of perspective, or the headlines may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“Many products that consumers are beginning to fear will be absent from shop shelves could well have been shipped and received by retailers already. If we see normal purchasing patterns, we should also see that most of what consumers are seeking will be available to purchase,” Keen said.
He continued: “We need to remember that more teu were shipped successfully in August 2021 than in August 2019 before the pandemic. There is plenty of cargo being moved around.”
“Are there major operational challenges, currently? Yes, of course, but our members and freight forwarders across the world, that are responsible for managing the supply chains that underpin global trade, are moving hell and high water to address them and doing their part to ensure that the forthcoming holiday season will go ahead as well as possible,” he added.
Keen believes the latest crunch in global supply chains will act as an opportunity for the industry to demonstrate to the general public both the significance and magnitude of modern supply chains, as well as how vulnerable they can be.
“The wider public may now appreciate why it is known as a supply chain. If one link breaks, such as when in March this year the Suez Canal was blocked for six days by the grounding of container ship, the chain breaks for everyone,” the BIFA chief noted, adding that the current publicised issues raise further awareness about the importance of the growing and exciting supply chain management and logistics sector.
“It should also put the precarious balancing act of supply chain management into perspective and hopefully lead to a deeper appreciation from the consumer for end products, and the essential role of the freight industry in delivering them,” Keen added.
Whilst BIFA accepts that moving boxes from the ports to destinations inland is one of the biggest issues facing retailers and the freight forwarders that serve them in the run up to Christmas, Keen hopes that as port congestion reduces, as it inevitably will, the headline writers will be equally vocal as backlogs are eased and containers are delivered.