New England

New England Businesses Grapple With Supply Chain Issues

Honey jars and spices are among the products in short supply as New England businesses attempt to navigate the nation's supply chain problems

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A backlog of container ships waiting to dock, trucks unable to move inventory, skyrocketing freight costs and labor shortages have all contributed to the nation's supply chain issues.

Local companies are trying to navigate it all as they head into the crucial holiday shopping season.

The holiday season is big for My Grandma's of New England Coffee Cake. They are mixing up a variety of flavors, but you won't find the cappuccino cake this year.

"Cappuccino is made with pure Italian espresso," said owner Bob Katz. "One of the reasons we've had to cut down is we couldn't get espresso from overseas. It's one of the ingredients that you can't get, and we're not going to use any substitutes."

The company even had a hard time getting the nutmeg needed for its pumpkin cakes, even though it was coming from Connecticut.

"We have a truck, we can go get it, but they didn't even have the employees in the loading dock to be able to load it where the nutmeg was made," said Katz.

But he says planning ahead has them in good shape with tins and boxes for the holidays.

"Our shipping department is incredible at making deals with these companies well in advance," said Katz. "Because if we don't have boxes, we're out of business, and there have been challenges, they have had to shift things around and make deals with people to buy more than we need but whatever it takes. They're doing an incredible job."

Over at the Boston Honey Company, they have plenty of honey -- the jars and lids are the problem.

"This is the glass jar that we use for one of our products, it holds 16 ounces of honey in it," said co-owner Addie Reseska.

She has spent hours online searching for distributors who can deliver what she needs.

"The stress is if you don't have the container, how can you distribute the product, how can you pay employees?" asked Reseska. "It drips down to everything. Payroll, distribution, all of that, so it does keep you awake at night, a lot of stress, yes."

Up in Vermont, the makers of Coombs Family Farms maple syrup tell us prices for bottles, caps, labels and cardboard have gone up, and labor is in short supply.

Gilette admits it is facing a challenging landscape, but says its team is working around the clock to ensure that customers have access to their grooming products.

Hasbro in Rhode Island said in a recent earnings report they are working tirelessly to ensure product for the holiday, and Stop & Shop tell us it is working diligently to keep high-demand products in stock. Juice, juice boxes, pet food and paper goods are currently hard to find.

It won't happen in time for the holidays, but a supply chain expert says the distribution bottleneck will eventually clear up.

"Retailers and manufacturers can't supply if it doesn't," said Lauren Beitelspacher, an associate professor in the Marketing Division at Babson College. "There will be community interventions and government interventions to move this along. Buying and selling merchandise for consumer use is a critical part of our economy. So there is a huge incentive to clear this up and move this along."

Some expert advice this holiday season – don't wait until the last minute. Whether you're buying gifts or food or household essentials, if you see it and you need it, go ahead and buy it. You might not get the best deal, but you otherwise might not get the product at all.

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