Global supply chain disruptions impact the GV community


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Gillian Hanton, Staff Writer

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, shortages and increased prices of products such as food, gas and household items have caused distress for people around the world. These stressors are largely due to issues in the supply chain industry, which is facing large demand post-COVID-19 lockdown.

The Grand Valley State University community is no exception to these struggles, as business owners and students face difficulties related to these supply chain shortages. 

The industry is taking a big economic hit as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate the world. It’s estimated that global disruptions within the industry were up 638% during the first half of 2021, almost half of which occurred in North America.

In addition, Resilinc, one of the global leaders in supply chain risk management, marked COVID-19 as a “severe” event, a level of impact which has never been assigned to an event before. 

“The big change from lack of demand during COVID to a ton of demand afterward is a huge factor, and probably the primary factor in why we’re seeing global shortages,” said Daniel Pellathy, Assistant Professor of Management at GVSU. “Companies right now are trying to deal with this imbalance between supply and demand.”

As companies struggle to increase product availability, the West Michigan population continues to cope with limited resources. One of the biggest challenges has been providing food for students in the school system.

Georgetown, Jenison, and Hudsonville Public Schools have all reported shortages in their usual lunch items and have had to make replacements and accommodations. College students are also being impacted by supply chain shortages and increased prices, especially those who’re working to pay off student loans or save money for the future. 

“When I go to the store, there aren’t always products available that I’m used to buying,” said GVSU junior Katelyn Meeker. “I also have to avoid some things that are getting more expensive because they no longer fit into my budget.” 

Businesses in the Grand Rapids area are also feeling the impact of these shortages.

Essentials such as food products, packing and shipping materials and electronic equipment necessary for sales have become nearly impossible to obtain. Even if they do become available, small businesses often encounter increased shipping times and prices.

With the holiday season quickly approaching, these issues leave owners wondering how to deal with an influx of orders and limited products. 

“I do a lot of work with local businesses, and they are absolutely feeling the shortage at all levels of input, from raw materials to component inputs and parts,” Pellathy said. “There are also real cost increases local companies are feeling, and it’s constraining to the local economy.” 

Unfortunately, there isn’t much the public can do on a large scale to lower the demand for certain products. However, adjustments can be made to limit individual spending.

“Short-term, look for substitutes for products you normally buy,” Pellathy said. “Long-term, look more closely at supply chains. Really see where your products are coming from and make that a part of your purchasing decisions.”

Experts believe the financial crisis, labor shortage and product shortage should be resolved or at least improved by the end of 2022. In the meantime, companies, small businesses and schools will continue to adjust to this new way of life.