‘Acute’ Pallet Shortages Putting Fresh Produce Supply At Risk


Severe pallet shortages are inflicting a widespread effect on the produce industry — including the availability of produce to consumers.

The shortages are “acute,” according to United Fresh Produce Association’s letter to the industry in a news release.

The association detailed a multitude of issues that are impacting pallet availability, including:

“The lack of pallets is adding stress to a supply chain that is already facing significant challenges, which include a lack of available trucks and shipping containers, ongoing labor challenges, fluctuating fuel costs, pandemic-related challenges and a pending shortage of resin used to make reusable containers and pallets,” according to the release. “At this time, expectations are that the pallet shortage will continue for months, perhaps for the balance of 2021 – all at a time when many North American produce items are just beginning seasonal harvests and shipments.”

The issue has a wide and deep scope of negative impacts, according to United Fresh:

Company leaders along the supply chain need to collaborate to balance organizational goals relative to overall availability of goods with availability of food.

“If there is not a concerted effort across the supply chain to ensure pallet availability for shipment of produce, there is little doubt that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for the grower-shipper community to meet buyer, and ultimately consumer, demand for produce,” according to United Fresh. 

Also, growers and shippers are trying to comply with pallet requirement specifications, but this is even more challenging.

United Fresh’s stance is that temporary modifications or exceptions to pallet requirements — as long as those exceptions don’t jeopardize safety — would help greatly until this pallet shortage is resolved.

All partners in the supply chain should have regular conversations with their pallet suppliers to understand the situation and pallet inventories and availability, according to the release.

“We welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with all parties within the supply chain to mitigate the impacts of the current shortages and will reach out to stakeholders to identify a path forward that provides solutions to this increasingly disruptive threat and enables the continued flow of goods,” according to United Fresh.

From The Packer