The Inside Scoop
As promised in my previous blog, I am going to share with you some of the facts and information that I am exposed to being deeply immersed in this industry, and as a result of our interaction with our supply chain and many hundreds of people from all walks of life on a weekly basis. My intention for this blog post is not to alarm anyone or cause worry. I just want to share an unvarnished account of what I am seeing - just the plain hard facts as I encounter them.
When the full effect of COVID-19 hit the general public in late January & early February, I knew then as witnessed with my own eyes, that the true long term devastating impact caused by COVID-19 would be the financial impact of the policies generated by our government and reaction of the general public. Then in turn, the impact of those policies on our supply chain.
One of the most frequently asked questions that we hear from our customers is "what do you think is going to happen?" Well obvious we cannot be certain of the future. What we can be is aware of what our suppliers and manufactures are saying and experiencing. Having this information available to us gives us a unique perspective as we interact deeply into the supply chain on a daily basis as a normal function of running Good2GoCo. We talk daily with our contacts throughout North America that are involved in our industry. At this point we deal with suppliers, manufactures and wholesalers in many of the US states and most provinces in Canada. This affords us a very unique perspective.
There is one overwhelming truth that applies to all of our business contacts and that is simply "they cannot get product on a predictable and regular basis in the quantities required". Their individual supply chains are strained, and in some cases completely broken. It does not matter what product they manufacture, represent or distribute. All industries across the board are experiencing the same thing.
This has affected us greatly at Good2GoCo. We are constantly fighting to get the product that we need in order to meet our customer demands. Promised deliveries for product are regularly missed & changed. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times our suppliers have promised us product, only later to break those promises and change the delivery date. A good part of it is circumstances beyond their control. Some of it is improper planning and some of it is mismanagement of information from within their own companies. And there is also a lot of over-promising even though they know they cannot deliver.
Obviously, this can be very frustrating. Every time one of our suppliers breaks a promise, it creates a huge problem with our customers because we communicate with them frequently about when a product is coming, only to have to turn around and change the estimated delivery date at the last minute. Obviously, this is understandably frustrating for our customers. Recently, one of our manufacturers notified Good2GoCo that a significant quantity of a product that we had been waiting for had been shipped. We in turn contacted our customers to update them that the product was on its way – providing an estimated time of delivery. After another three days had passed, and we had not received tracking information or shipping confirmation. Once again, we followed up with the supplier, only to learn that they had over-estimated how many of that product they had in stock and in fact there were none to ship. This is sadly a very common story of late. Not just from one supplier but many.
We have been working with a company on bringing a revolutionary water filter bottle to market. This water bottle is going to be a game changer in many different ways. One of its greatest features is its ability to produce the highest quality filtered bottled water. In laboratory testing that we have received from the company producing the bottle, it consistently shows the highest water quality tests they have ever seen from a water filter bottle. You ask yourself why is this relevant information? Here’s why - we cannot bring this product to market at this time because the factory where it is set to be produced has been shut down. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested to bring this project to market, however we cannot produce the water filter bottles because the government has forced the factories to close. It becomes a waiting game for the “go ahead” from the government to allow production to begin again. The factory has all of the components sitting waiting to be assembled – and nothing can be done until they receive the government’s approval to begin production.
Another one of our manufactures makes a very popular product that we sell. The demand is very high for their product and they have the ability to meet that demand with their company’s production capacity except for one small problem, a single component in their product is made by an outside supplier which requires very specific expertise to produce and they have not been able to supply this part due to production capacity significantly impacted as a result of COVID-19. This has created a situation where they are 6-8 weeks out to ship orders.
Canning jars and lids… who would have ever thought that a simple thing such as a canning jar or lid would literally become almost impossible to get North America wide? Canning jar orders are 6 months out, and in many cases the companies who make them will not accept any new orders until the spring of 2021.
The food industry has been hammered especially hard. We are seeing widespread shortages and cost increases due to the very limited supply of certain ingredients. One of the things that most people do not realize is how our harvest season is directly tied to how many and in what quantity raw ingredients are available to the market to purchase by manufacturers. When there are shortages, the suppliers who urgently need ingredients will pay extra in order to get them, thus driving up the prices of the end product.
The harvest season this year has been hit especially hard due to the following factors.
- The availability of pickers & field workers has been hampered in many cases due to travel restrictions, lockdowns & policies implemented by governments. In turn, an enormous amount of our harvest this year has gone to waste for the simple reason that there are not enough people available to harvest the products.
- Weather has been a significant issue this year. Many instances of either excessive rain, not enough rain, high winds and storms have wiped out a significant portion of our overall yearly harvest.
- Demand from consumers in North America to purchase food products have been astronomical – way more than in a normal year….particularly in our industry. Long term storage food, emergency rations and camping food have seen a surge never seen before in our industry. People have seen first hand the fragility of our supply chain. Seeing empty shelves in stores on the scale that we have this year has caused a huge demand on emergency food. More and more people want to have an emergency backup just in case. And let's not forget regular food that we buy on a daily basis in our grocery stores. Many of the ingredients used in the food industry are concentrated to just a select handful of producers. If even one of them slows or stops production, it shows up in a big way. Simply put - it translates into shortages and longer delivery dates.
These are 3 of the main issues affecting the food industry as we see it. How does that translate into practical products we use? Here's an example - things like black beans are very hard to come by and have seen a huge spike in price. Rice was almost impossible to get for several months due to it being produced overseas. Currently, we have much better luck getting those items but we have seen significant cost increases. Meat has been especially hit hard. Getting freeze dried meat in our industry is very difficult right now. It takes months (over 4) once you order it to receive it, and, you guessed it - the price has gone up significantly.
We have worked very hard at building great relationships with our suppliers. It is only because of these relationships that we have been able to consistently get product through this year. But no matter how good a relationship is, if there are shortages… it translates into persistent delays, cost increases and not everyone gets what they want.
Consumer goods have fared no better. Solar, camping products, knives, axes, pressure canners, freeze dryers, fire pits and a whole host of products related to our industry have suffered the same fate for the same reasons. Component manufactures are shut down, reduced capacity or unable to operate for lack of workers and government mandated shut downs. Our product lines are very popular - that is why we chose them – which also means these products are hard to come by. We have hundreds and hundreds of orders spaced out to ensure we would have product coming in on a regular basis. But even those orders made months ago did not reflect the demand that we have seen. A demand so high it is unlike anything we have ever experienced - but we have adjusted for this. We have submitted larger orders with more frequency and have worked tirelessly with our manufacturers to coordinate our products arrival. This doesn’t guarantee we will not see shortages or delays but it does mean we have done everything within our control to make sure we have product for our customers going forward.
So many things in our lives are closely connected to the smooth function of our supply chain. The average person just does not realize how fragile it is. Moreover, they do not truly understand what can happen if there are problems within that supply chain and how it will affect their lives directly. I have not even touched on the issue of shipping using our current logistics industry. Trucking, rail and shipping industries have all been hit hard. There were and still are many container terminals shut down. Billions of dollars worth of food has gone to waste because the shipping containers the food was shipped in was inside a shipping terminal that was shut down. It simply rotted & went to waste. This also applies to components and products. They sit waiting to move again, holding up the companies who ordered them to either build their products or ship the completed product to their customers.
I will share another example - our new Good2GoCo building. We have been in there since June this year. I only received our occupancy permit this last Friday. We have not been able to get a sign permit or building permit to start our office renovations or even put in our washrooms. All because of 5 parts related to the sprinkler system and fire monitoring system. This is because the manufactures have been unable to produce them. These parts are sold out everywhere. They take months to get. You can see how a simple thing affected us adversely… $500 dollars worth of parts holds us up for months.
Now picture this kind of problem affecting literally every industry in every type of product category you can think of. Ask yourself how is this going to affect you long term? Do you really think these problems will be solved in just a few months?
Which leads me to the thing that makes all these other things I have touched on seem small in comparison. That is the financial impact of this year’s response to COVID-19 and our governmental and institutional policies that have been implemented. It is going to be nothing short of devastating. There are so many companies that I know of that are in deep financial trouble. So much so they will not be able to recover. We hear on a daily basis of the large companies that are showing signs of struggle. Some have already filed for bankruptcy protection - however these are not the companies I am speaking about. A lot of companies were already going into this year highly leveraged in debt and the events of this year have been nothing but a complete gut punch. The proverbial knockout punch. The local gift store, retail companies, local movie theatres, entertainment businesses, hotels, taxi drivers and numerous restaurants. The list goes on. The government cannot keep bailing everyone out. At some point we will hit a wall - something has to give.
It is showing up by people having less disposable income. Businesses have taken out loans to help them get through this that they do not have a realistic way to pay them back. Jobs are disappearing at a shocking rate. These are not just temporary layoffs in many cases. They are jobs that are gone and are unlikely to come back. I could go on and on here but I think I have made my point. I have given enough examples of a multifaceted problem that is affecting all of us in ways we have never before seen in our lifetimes. It is almost like we are going through the perfect storm.
So I am going to finish my blog off with some sobering observations, a little advice and a concerned warning for anyone who reads this post.
Create a list of priorities.
Make no mistake our supply chain is going to see continued strain and outright failure over the next many months and very possibly into the future (throughout 2021). Long wait times on popular items are going to become a way of life for at least the next 4 -6 months. I highly recommend that you make a list of the things you need over the next several months and longer into the future. Prioritize that list and start purchasing as funds become available. Even if you have to wait a significant amount of time for them to be available and shipped, I recommend you do not hesitate. I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT HESITATE TO ACT!
Build an extended food pantry.
This does not have to be all long term storage food. It can be regular food you currently buy from your local grocery store. Sit down and calculate how much food you use on a monthly basis and come up with a plan to build a pantry that you can essentially buy from yourself and rather than go to a grocery store. This could be a 2-week supply or it could be many months supply - then you just do your shopping every week like you would normally once the pantry is built, rotate out your oldest items and replace them with the new items you bought that week. Each individual will have to decide for themselves what that looks like in terms of how much food to store. There are many benefits to this approach such as cost savings, food security and guaranteeing that the items you need are there in case more shortages happen or things get worse in the future. Worst case you don’t need this but you have food security buying items you would have purchased anyway but you saved money by buying in bulk and hedging against inflation. Nothing will go to waste because you will rotate through your pantry on a daily basis.
Start a garden.
If it’s too late where you live to start one, get ready for your spring garden. Buy seeds as soon as they are available. They are in extremely high demand and will be sold out before spring comes around. We will be selling our 2021 seed offerings starting in mid to late November. All of our seeds will be non-GMO as well as heirloom. We are going to have several hundred varieties. Once seeds for next year become available, don’t hesitate. Get what you need for a couple years and then research how to store them so they remain viable.
Plan your harvest.
Having a garden means you need to get set up to preserve your own food. You can do this by freezing, canning, dehydrating and freeze drying. I won’t go into details on the benefits or detriments of these methods here. There is plenty of info out there already for you to consider. Have a plan for your harvest in place and buy the items you need to preserve your harvested food early. Canning products of every kind are extremely hard to come buy right now. Pressure canners, water bath canners, canning jars & lids are in such high demand that they are anywhere from 3 months to 6 months and longer to receive once you order them. They are especially in high demand during the harvest season so buy them early so you are not among those who waited to the last minute to buy theirs.
I have given you a few recommendations that I think are important to mention and of high priority. But there are many equally important items I did not mention here. One thing I can leave you with on this subject that does not cost any money and can help you prepare for yourself and your family… that is to research, learn and practice what you have learned. Gaining new skills is a worthy investment in your future.
I want to leave you with a few sobering observations and things that everyone should consider going forward:
- Our supply chain is in trouble today. In every category and area there are significant issues, choke points and failures. To ignore this fact would be irresponsible. Take this into account when you are deciding to purchase anything. Adjust your buying habits accordingly.
- Ask yourselves this simple question, “if we have another shut down, how will that affect my ability to purchase things I need”? and “if there are shortages now what will another shutdown look like that after”? Adjust your plans accordingly.
- Life is not going to go back to normal anytime soon, at least not until the spring or well into the middle or end of 2021.
- There are already food shortages. You might not see it where you are but we talk to people all across this country and we get constant reports of empty shelves and items being persistently out of stock - and it’s happening now. I expect it will get worse in the months to come. Especially meat. Meat is going to be in short supply over the next year or so. We are already seeing that right now. This does not even cover what we hear from the commercial distributors of food. They are having trouble in many categories for securing food to meet the demands that are out there right now. This problem does not show up today for the consumer, it shows up 2-6 months from now.
- If you wait or hesitate to enact whatever plans you have come up with to prepare for your unique situation, you just might be left out when it comes time to try to get the things you need in the future. Remember planning is prudent… acting is preparing.
- You cannot live and survive as an island unto yourself. Seek out like-minded people. Build a community. Gather together and start a large market sized garden. Share the workload and cost. Being a loner always ends the same way… you are alone and vulnerable! Serve each other in all that you do and build a strong team. Set goals and work towards them. Many hands make light work… words to live by.
I am not an alarmist. I am not given over to worry and I would much rather respond to a situation than react to one. Times are uncertain in so many ways and it is causing a lot of fear in individuals. I want to encourage those that read this blog to not give into fear or worry. Take that energy and Act! Learn a new valuable skill. Start a garden. Practice canning. Research and gather information. Do something everyday towards helping yourself or your family become more prepared.
Finally trust in GOD! Not a single day goes by in my life that I do not look to HIM for guidance and all our needs. HE is our provider! Every good thing we have comes from HIM!
I hope everyone who reads this post see’s it in the spirit it was written… to deliver encouragement… a prudent warning and hope.
I have some exciting news that I want to share before I go. Over the coming weeks and months, we are going to be producing more content for our customers in greater frequency. We are putting in a podcast booth and a filming studio in our new warehouse. Once everything is completed, we are going to start producing YouTube videos and podcasts on a weekly basis.
We will be doing product reviews, education and presentations of the different products we carry and distribute throughout Canada. We will be focusing a lot on things like solar, off-grid, food preservation and homesteading products. These are items that are in extremely high demand. For now… I have to let you go… we have to go load our UTV’s for our boy’s annual camping trip this weekend. I wish you all the very best holiday weekend!