Quiz time: What do these three real-life scenarios from 2021 have in common?
1. This is a great time to be in the seafood industry. Seafood consumption is strong, powered by the continuation of the prepare-at-home trend triggered by the pandemic, and by post-pandemic resumption of restaurant and food-and-beverage business. And, depending on the sector, retail prices have soared, in some cases 50% - 60% within the calendar year and 140% year over year.2. This is a terrible time to be in the seafood industry. If you produce, process or ship seafood, you’re struggling with labor shortages which make it challenging to deliver on your own commitments. And with ships sitting awaiting access to bottlenecked ports and continued challenges with closed borders, you’re concerned about the ability of your traditional suppliers to deliver on their commitments to you.3. Completely unrelated to the pandemic, US Customs and Border Protection decided to take action to restrict a decade-old process used to ship whitefish from Alaska to the US east coast (if you’re not familiar with this one, it’s an entertaining look at how the lure of opportunity drives ingenuity… an excellent and informative podcast from Intrafish is here, which will enable you to see the humor and audacity in this video.)
All of these scenarios place pressure on seafood companies to expand their global network of relationships. Our supply chain is still broken. It’s exhibiting the symptoms of a COVID long-hauler, where it’s far from recovered, and it is not clear how or when recovery will take place. There’s a distinct need to increase supply to meet demand, to increase the number of supplier sources in order to buffer the risk of supplier unpredictability, and to build in flexibility to shift from one source to another as the regulatory and geopolitical environment introduce constraints.
There is cause for optimism - while Delta variant flare-ups are still occurring, and the true impact of Omicron is, as of this writing, yet to be understood, in large part we’re on a path to recovery from the pandemic. Many of us in the US just had a real Thanksgiving gathering with family, something not possible a year ago. Companies are starting to return to the office. We’re eating in restaurants more now.
Competitiveness – and survival – requires conscious action to build new relationships, and platforms to effectively manage them and pursue new business opportunities. Companies who do so rapidly will capitalize on the market-driven demand opportunity, and will increase the flexibility and agility of their sourcing relationships to buffer supplier and labor uncertainties. Companies unable to do so will face idled facilities, margin pressure, and declining revenue. It’s that simple.
Are you able to ride the wave of change? How are you expanding your network of supplier/buyer relationships?
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