Hospitality supply chains under increased pressure

Pandemic-related disruption has caused supply difficulties for more than nine in ten hospitality operators since they reopened in July, according to a new survey by CGA and Prestige Purchasing.

They found that only 8% of operators had “escaped supply challenges” since the end of the first national lockdown, while only 9% have not encountered any delays. 

Some 73% think service levels have decreased since July, however, while only 5% think they have improved. 

The CGA said the findings reflected the “complex” challenges faced throughout the hospitality supply chain, including widely fluctuating demand as a result of local lockdowns and new restrictions.

However, the survey also found that suppliers have been working hard to “mitigate the worst of the difficulties for hospitality businesses”. 

Only 26% of respondents said supply challenges have been worse than they expected, and nearly 63% said most supplies have arrived on time. 

Although 95% of deliveries have been missing products, 60% of respondents said these have been at (47%) or below (13%) the level they expected.

The survey also found that 20% of respondents saw prices rise over the summer, however. Increases were “particularly apparent” in fruit and vegetables, where 40% think price performance is worse than pre-lockdown. 

“Significant” numbers have also experienced price rises in meat and poultry (27%), fish and seafood (25%) and dairy (33%), while beverage categories have remained more stable.

David Read, founder and chairman of Prestige Purchasing, said: “We should not view these problems as a failure within our supply community. They simply highlight the enormous challenges that the pandemic has brought to the whole value chain. 

“The frequent and sudden changes to social restrictions and the complexity of regionality have reduced demand planning to educated guesswork. Social distancing and partial closures have dramatically reduced drop-size, disrupting route planning and making deliveries less economic.”

CGA client director of food and retail, Fiona Speakman said: “These figures show the massive impact of the pandemic and lockdowns across the hospitality supply chain. Suppliers are working in exceptionally difficult circumstances, and many operators have been grateful for their support and hard work in responding to issues that are completely beyond their control. 

“As we enter the crucial Christmas trading period, suppliers and operators alike will be hoping for a strong end to a very tough year. But with the end of the UK’s transition from the EU rapidly approaching, another daunting round of supply challenges may now be looming.”

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