How the Shipping Shortages will Impact the Cannabis Industry

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Right now, the globe is experiencing a worldwide shipping crisis. COVID slowed down, depopulated, and temporarily closed thousands of transport hubs, from ports to trucking depots to train stations. The contracting and suddenly re-expanding market has left the world with a global shortage in something we never imagined: shipping. 

Shipping containers are being held up at the wrong port or sent back empty instead of full. Truck drivers are in incredibly short supply, increasing the price of routes. As goods and materials are slow to transport, prices go up and supply chains are impacted. The cannabis industry is no exception, as every sector is hit with the shockwave of a widespread shipping shortage.

How are cannabis businesses being impacted by this industry shortage, and what can you do to interruption-proof your company?

Increased Price & Scarcity of Packing Materials

Interestingly, one of the biggest issues with the shipping shortage is packing material. Both new and post-consumer (recycled) packing materials are seeing serious competition in the business sector, especially as businesses gear up for a predicted holiday season rife with online orders that must be boxed. For cannabis businesses who tend to package in plastic and thinner card-stock boxes, the cost of packaging may still see scarcity, delays, and price increases.

As other sectors compete for holiday packaging, cannabis businesses may find themselves looking for alternative supply chains to prevent pile-up delays with box manufacturers.

Higher Demand for Local and Cross-State Drivers

Finding drivers for the cannabis industry is challenging enough in many states where special licensing and precautions are required. Today, there is even more competition for skilled commercial drivers of both consumer vehicles and large cargo vehicles. Between the postal carriers, Amazon, and the major trucking providers always looking to improve their recruitment strategy, cannabis businesses may find themselves looking at a shortage of drivers available to safely ferry your products to local dispensaries.

Many cannabis businesses are already cultivating their own driver pools, taking the opportunity to ensure your team is staffed with serious and trustworthy people beyond what driving service fleets may provide.

Shortage of Materials to Build New Facilities

Lastly, building materials are seeing a notable shortage across the country. Lumber, steel, and transported stone and tile products are all being delayed simply because there aren’t enough trucks to carry these large and heavy loads to their destinations. Many building projects are seeing delays because of a local shortage of building materials, and the cost of building materials in many local regions is going up.

For new or expanding cannabis businesses, this could be bad news. Should you have renovations or building plans in the cards, you too can expect delays and increased material costs in the face of the current materials shortage.

How to Protect Your Cannabis Business from Shipping-Related Delays

So how can you plan ahead to avoid any interruptions in your supply chain this season? To start with, pre-order the materials you will need from your suppliers now. The earlier in the season you register your need, the better. It may be prudent to order a larger batch of printed boxes or sealable bags and store them on-premises if you’re not sure you can reorder on time during the holiday rush.

Make solid plans for your driving needs as well. Partner with a cannabis-certified driving team or build your own team of drivers who are available when, where, and how you need them to safely transport your products.

Lastly, think creatively about building plans. Facility construction is bound to see delays but using locally sourced and available materials can allow you to build faster and more affordably. Interior renovations, especially, offer some flexibility to the materials and the way you build.

Looking for more insights on cannabis business continuity in the face of shifts in the supply chain? Contact us today.


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