The common thought around food security is that buying locally produced foods and support local businesses is a great way to make sure that we have access to food in the future. With a thing like the current shipping crisis happening, this makes a lot of sense on the surface. There is one critical flaw in this thought however. What we are overlooking is how our locally produced food comes to us from the local producer. By that I don't mean the fuel that runs our transportation systems but the packaging that protects our food from the often industrial environments that our food travels through on its way to your plate or cup.
Packaging in most cases is originating from overseas, even our local packaging producers rely heavily on components from overseas. With this issue we are in a position of two weak links in our local supply chains one is delay of shipping, the other being increased costs to the consumer. Both of these are challenging the ability of local food producers to reach the market.
At our company we have a long time relationship with a can manufacturer from who has always served us well. Cans are a highly useful and reusable and recyclable alternative to plastic. We have cans shipped directly to our warehouse where we stored and filled them with coffee. As a real world example of how we have been effected, we saw or shipping cost over the past year go up by 10 times. This means that every tin that we fill the packaging cost is a primary driver of price increases that we must pass on in our pricing. Backlogs in shipping are causing un reliable shipping schedules which are causing us to runout of cans in some of our products. I know that we are not alone in this. When we have no packaging, we have no way to ship. This means that our customers cant get our coffee as grocery store shelves run out of our coffee.
From locally grown produce in plastic containers or bags, the lids on the jars of the local honey company, to the wrapper on that locally made chocolate bar, all are susceptible to not being able to ship because of not having packaging. On a tin of our coffee we have lids coming from a different supplier than tins, they also have disruptions to their supply chains, which compounds delivery delays.
Hopefully one day we can move away from packaging all together and find some alternative such as the LOOP project that is slowly rolling out. I think then we will have a much more robust local food supply chain. If anyone wants to come in and buy there coffee in their own containers reach out to us!! firstname.lastname@example.org