A Broken Supply Chain Means These 10 Products Could Be Out of Stock Soon

Global supply chains can be disrupted by a number of factors, such as financial crises, trade disputes or — as is the case with the coronavirus — a worldwide pandemic. These disruptions can lead to a shortage of goods, which is what has happened with these 10 items that are […]

Global supply chains can be disrupted by a number of factors, such as financial crises, trade disputes or — as is the case with the coronavirus — a worldwide pandemic. These disruptions can lead to a shortage of goods, which is what has happened with these 10 items that are now in short supply.

Last updated: Aug. 18, 2020

Laptops

China’s production of laptop parts shut down early in the year, and although factories started reopening on a limited scale in April, the production could not keep up with the demand for laptops in the U.S. as many transitioned into working from home and completing schooling online, according to Supply Chain Management Review. Seven months after the initial shutdown, supply still cannot keep up with demand.

Medical Supplies

Earlier in the year, countries such as China stopped exporting medical supplies, leading the U.S. to rely on domestic production. N95 masks were in short supply at the beginning of the pandemic, and the shortage remains an issue now. Gowns also are in short supply. An internal report from the White House COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force said the “demand for gowns outpaces current U.S. manufacturing capabilities.”

“I worry there hasn’t been a true fix to the supply-chain issues,” Val Griffeth, co-founder of Get Us PPE, a grassroots organization that finds and donates personal protective equipment to healthcare workers who don’t have enough, told Vox. “Our government has basically said that we’re going to allow the free economy to fix the issues. Unfortunately, it takes time and capital to ramp up production, and because the government has not devoted capital to helping solve the situation, we’re seeing a delay in its resolution.”

Pharmaceutical Products

India provides 40% of the American generic drug supply, as well as numerous pharmaceutical ingredients that are needed to make medicines, The New York Times reported. But now, President Donald Trump is trying to change the United States’ dependence on other countries for its drug supply with his new executive order that would give preference to drugs and medical supplies developed and made domestically rather than abroad. Drug industry experts say this move possibly could lead to shortages.

“The ‘Buy American’ executive order could disrupt the global pharmaceutical supply chain, jeopardizing our ability to respond to the current crisis and potentially leading to major long-term supply chain disruptions, including shortages,” Stephen Ubl, head of the drug lobby PhRMA, said in a statement obtained by Healthcare Dive.

iPhones

The new iPhone models typically are released in late September, but due to supply chain issues, the new lineup will be delayed a few weeks, Reuters reported. It remains to be seen whether supply chain disruptions will mean a smaller supply of the latest models, too, which could lead to a shortage.

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Garlic

About one-third of the United States’ garlic supply is imported, and the majority of the imported garlic comes from China, Global Trade magazine reported. Supply chain interruptions in China, Argentina’s rerouting of its garlic exports to Brazil as part of a trade deal and rainstorms that destroyed much of the U.S. domestic crops in 2019 combined to lead to a shortage in supply, Capital Press reported. At the same time, demand has increased with more people cooking at home. Although supply was expected to be back up by the early summer, prices could continue to rise and fall, depending on supply and demand, Today reported.

Vapes

China also is a leading manufacturer of vaping hardware, which could lead to a U.S. vape shortage, Vice reported. About 90% of the world’s vaping and e-cigarette hardware is produced in Shenzhen, China, and factory shutdowns have led to major supply chain delays.

Toys

Major toy companies such as Hasbro have experienced product shortages due to the pandemic. Although factories in China — which represent 55% of Hasbro’s production — had reopened by the second fiscal quarter of the year, factories in the U.S., Ireland and India have been closed for most of the quarter, CNBC reported. Debbie Hancock, senior vice president of investor relations, said in a conference call in late July that she believes supply will return to its pre-pandemic levels by the end of the third quarter.

Diet Soda

In late February, Coca-Cola Co. announced that it was experiencing production issues with Diet Coke and other low-calorie drinks because its supply chain for an artificial sweetener and “certain other ingredients” sourced in China had been disrupted as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Today reported.

“We have initiated contingency supply plans and do not foresee a short-term impact due to these delays,” the company said at the time. “However, we may see tighter supplies of some of these ingredients in the longer term should production or export operations in China deteriorate.”

As of July, diet soda indeed was in short supply due to a shortage of ingredients, KHQ in Spokane, Washington, reported.

Specialty Food Items

Most food items will remain in stock, but if you want a specialty food item — especially one imported from abroad — you might soon be out of luck. Pasta and wines from Italy, cheese from France and other niche food products from overseas may be impacted by supply chain interruptions, Anantha Iyer, senior associate dean in supply chain and operations management at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, told CNBC.

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Apparel

It’s unlikely that retailers ever will be completely out of stock of clothing, but there’s been much less variety on store shelves of late. If you’re looking for a specific style of clothing in your size, you might not be able to find it. Clothing supply chains already were being interrupted by the trade war with China, and the pandemic exacerbated the issues with manufacturing centers such as Bangladesh and parts of Central America becoming virus hot spots, Bloomberg reported.

“The supply chain is a disaster,” David Shiffman, co-head of consumer and retail banking at investment bank PJ Solomon, told Bloomberg.

Products That Are Already Out of Stock

A combination of increased demand and short supply already has made it nearly impossible to buy a number of products. Here are items that are out of stock in most places.

Disinfectants

It’s very difficult to find Lysol spray and Clorox wipes, and it might be some time before these items are in stock again. According to USA Today, the brands simply were not prepared for the huge spikes in demand, and the coronavirus-related global supply chain interruptions mean that they now can’t produce enough inventory to meet the inflated demand.

Clorox CEO Benno Dorer told Reuters in early August that disinfecting wipes will remain in low supply until 2021.

Yeast

As breadmaking has become a popular stay-at-home activity, producers of dry yeast have struggled to keep up with the demand. John Heilman, vice president of manufacturing for Fleischmann’s Yeast producer AB Mauri, told Slate that there’s been as much as a 600% increase in demand for yeast year over year.

Where the supply chain is falling short is in the packaging. Stateside, Fleischmann’s Yeast is trying to ramp up the number of employees working at the packaging plants, but their ability to package could be affected by factory shutdowns in India, which makes the company’s jars.

As of late July, some grocery stores were still out of yeast, the NM Political Report said.

Freezers

As Americans rushed to stock up on food, many also rushed to the appliance store to buy extra freezers to store their food supply. This has led to freezers selling out at appliance stores across the country. And due to supply chain interruptions, it’s unclear when they will be restocked. Very few appliance companies manufacture their freezers in the United States, and even those that assemble freezers domestically typically rely on parts that are manufactured in China, Mass Live reported. Plus, factories in the U.S. are slowing down production to maintain social distancing guidelines.

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