The leader of a trade association representing the CPG industry was among those in attendance during a recent meeting with U.S. officials to explore solutions to reduce supply chain bottlenecks stemming from congestion at U.S. ports on the West Coast.
Discussions were held Oct. 13 between Biden administration officials—including Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese—and leaders of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., as well as representatives of labor and the business community.
“The two ports discussed moving to 24/7 operations,” according to a White House statement. “Labor leaders made clear their support for this effort, and business leaders announced new commitments to move their cargo during the newly available night time and weekend hours.”
The White House said that in addition to working on keeping the ports open 24/7, participants discussed additional solutions, including:
- a temporary expansion of warehousing and rail service;
- improving data tools and data sharing at the ports;
- and increasing recruitment of truck drivers while improving the quality of trucking jobs.
During the meeting, Harris noted global supply chain challenges, including disruptions resulting from the delta variant of COVID-19 that have shut down port operations in such key trading partners as Southeast Asia, according to the White House. This has caused backups and delays in ports throughout the world, the White House added.
Attendees of the meeting included, among others, representatives from the Consumer Brands Association (Consumer Brands), FedEx Logistics, Home Depot, Target, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Walmart.
“America is still in an emergency situation, one that is growing worse for our industry,” Consumer Brands President and CEO Geoff Freeman, who attended the supply chain meeting, said in an Oct. 13 press release. “We appreciate the administration’s focus on supply chain at this critical moment and applaud the announcement of ramping up port hours to expedite the movement of goods.”
Previously known as the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Consumer Brands represents nearly 2,000 brands from household and personal care to food and beverage products.
To address the supply chain bottlenecks, Freeman recommended increasing the labor pool, maintaining regulatory flexibility, and regularly connecting government leaders and the private sector to identify problems and solutions.
The CPG industry has 143,000 unfilled jobs, according to an Oct. 8 press release from Consumer Brands, citing figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet demand for CPGs rose in August by 9.4% “and shows no signs of slowing,” Consumer Brands reported.
“It is imperative that we remember that supply chain bottlenecks not only limit availability of toys and furniture but also of essentials like baby formula and toilet paper, and that the choke points are not only at ports,” Freeman said.
He added, “We cannot ignore the warning signals of higher prices and reduced availability. While our problems will not be solved overnight, with the administration’s engagement we are on a clearer path to tackling the supply chain crisis from every angle.”