Editorial Note: We receive a commission from Forbes Advisor affiliate links. It does not affect the opinion of the editor or the evaluation of the commission.
Supply chains are still struggling to keep up with demand.
The peak of the Covid-19 epidemic was months ago but the kinks in the supply chain have not yet appeared. Many sectors face a mismatch between production capacity and demand; inflation doesn’t help either.
As a result, consumers run into shortages of products from paper to medicine – and these shortages can have a negative impact on daily life.
And while some experts hope that the supply chain could reach more “normal” levels in the coming years, others caution against being too optimistic.
5 things that are currently in short supply
One of the most basic products today is experiencing a shortage.
When the Covid pandemic hit, life was forced indoors — and online. Demand for paper fell, as did American production in response. Many paper mills have been scrambling during the pandemic to produce packaging and cartons to keep up with the new reliance on online shopping, resulting in a 20% reduction in production capacity since 2019, as ERA Forest Products Research comments in the Seattle Times.
But as the shutdown eased, demand for paper products increased — and mills struggled to return to pre-pandemic production levels. Many mills that have converted to packaging cannot easily return to paper production.
Adding fuel to the fire is inflation, which makes paper production even more expensive. The cost of raw materials to produce paper has risen sharply, with the cost of paper rising up to 60%, according to Business Insider.
How to deal with: If you are a business owner looking for a special type of paper for marketing materials or inventory, ask your local printing company or paper supplier what other options are available. If you buy paper from time to time to fill your home printer, you may see the price increase. Consider switching to a cheaper brand, if available. If you are someone who buys paper online, keep in mind that many e-commerce brands use real-time dynamic pricing, resulting in price fluctuations. Use a price tracking app, such as CamelCamelCamel or Shopify, to determine if you click the buy button during price peaks.
U.S. oil and gasoline supplies are currently suffering from tight supplies, CBS News reports. Supply constraints are caused by many factors, including the war in Ukraine, refinery shutdowns, natural disasters and the explosion at the Philadelphia refinery.
You may have heard that US diesel prices are 25 days away. However, this does not mean that the country is about to be completely destroyed; said the analyst it is far from the case. This staggering number is possible only if all oil refineries in the country are shut down immediately, which analysts say is impossible.
How to deal with: The best way to manage the current diesel shortage is to resist panic buying; together, panic buying can consume the dwindling supply. Shortages may ease as demand cools, but it’s hard to predict exactly when that might happen.
3. Certain prescription drugs
Drug makers are having trouble keeping up with demand. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some commonly used drugs are currently suffering, causing a lot of stress for patients and medical staff:
- Albuterol Sulfate Inhalation Solution: It is used to treat the symptoms of asthma, emphysema and other health conditions.
- Amoxicillin: This antibiotic is used to treat a variety of bacterial infections, including RSV, a respiratory disease that is on the rise today.
- Adderall: The compound used to make Adderall, a drug used to manage ADHD symptoms, is experiencing a shortage.
- Epinephrine Auto-Injector (EpiPen): TThe drug is used to treat severe anaphylactic reactions.
How to deal with: In some cases, the unexpected discontinuation of a given medication can cause adverse health effects. Adderall, for example, is a stimulant—which means patients can experience severe withdrawal if they stop cold-turkey. If you run out of the medicine you rely on, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about a substitute that fits your prescription.
4. Formula baby
Despite the efforts of the federal government, the country continues to struggle with the lack of children and women.
The shortages stem from the temporary shutdown of a large formula plant in Michigan after contamination of some products caused bacterial infections in four infants — two of whom died. The discovery also led to the recall of some formulas made at the same plant, increasing already tight supplies.
The Biden administration called for the Defense Production Act to speed up formula production. Despite this, government officials stated as recently as early November that “of course there are still problems” with putting baby milk on the shelves. and deficiency takes time.
How to deal with: Because every baby’s needs are different and every family has different resources, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for how parents can deal with formula shortages. The Department of Health and Human Services says that most babies will “do just fine” with different brands, as long as they are made with the same foundation.
Forbes Health has an extensive guide to navigating breast milk shortages safely, as well as a guide to changing breast milk.
We’re not in an official butter shortage—yet. But experts warn that butter supplies are running low ahead of the busy holiday season for cooking and baking.
The main factor threatening the supply of butter is the production of milk, the main ingredient of butter. The number of dairy cows has declined because it has become more expensive to raise and keep them.
As a result, US butter production is down this year, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Less supply, and continued consumer demand, has caused the price of butter to rise nearly 27% year over year, according to the latest Consumer Price Index report from the Bureau of Statistics. Average price for a pound of butter was $3.14 for the week ending October 29; around the same time last year, it was less than $2.
How to deal with: The worst move a consumer can make is to start buying buttermilk. Because supplies are tight—rather than in a formal shortage—combined impulse buying can actually create shortages. If you find yourself without butter for cooking, there are substitutes that can work in some recipes, including pumpkin puree and applesauce.
For other uses, there are vegan butter alternatives like Earth Balance and Miyoko’s, which taste like real butter and are not like the plasticky margarine alternatives of yesteryear. Most stores also carry imported brands of butter such as Kerrygold, although they often carry a price tag.
Is Infertility Normal?
The continued shortages may have consumers wondering if the supply cuts are new. But experts see light at the end of the supply tunnel.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought severe disruption to the supply chain as lockdown measures have limited production. Global supply chains are so intertwined that these knots still take time to untangle.
As the shutdown eased, demand for many products increased significantly, but supply was tight. The war in Ukraine is exacerbating these problems by reducing many inputs used in the production process, including oil.
This perfect storm of disaster causes the supply chain to recover at a snail’s pace—but it bounces back. Data from the New York Fed’s Global Supply Chain Pressure Index indicates that these pressures are beginning to return to pre-Covid levels.
Supply chain disruptions are expected to return to “normal” by 2023, as reported by Bloomberg, although that recovery will vary by industry and region.
Today, consumers should expect that scarcity will remain a part of everyday life for the foreseeable future.