Issues with the supply chain were quite common and gained a lot of attention throughout 2020, and especially in the early days of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but they have also persisted at a lower level ever since. This has affected a number of industries, not the least of which is the restaurant sector, where shortages of food and ingredients have become a serious issue in recent months the world over.

For instance, Korean chains say they are facing a major shortage of potatoes needed to meet demand for french fries, and green tea is increasingly hard to come by in the U.S., according to Reuters. The reason why? Snags in the supply chain. Customs checks for international shipping are taking longer these days thanks to an increased focus on health and safety due to the pandemic, and also because bottlenecks in other types of shipping have made containers needed to send food items overseas harder to come by.

Large quantities of chicken and other popular foods are increasingly difficult to come by.Large quantities of chicken and other popular foods are increasingly difficult to come by.

Experts say this is not a temporary problem, having lasted many months already, and are expected to extend well into next year as well, the report said. Simply put, there is so much pent-up shipping demand that needs to unwind, that all types of supply chains will likely remain constricted. However, this also comes at a time when lockdowns around the U.S. and elsewhere are also coming to an end, so demand for food products in particular is on the rise as people return to their pre-pandemic behavior.

On the ground
Of course, it's not just a lack of shipping capacity that is affecting restaurants and stores all over the world, according to Transport Topics. Many companies across all industries are also coping with a worker shortage or trying to make up for lost time that resulted from COVID shutdowns. This means that even when things are being delivered, they're not arriving in the quantities restaurants need to satisfy demand.

Moreover, those in the industry say the issues are getting more difficult to navigate as business activity ramps up, the report said. Meanwhile, minimum order requirements are on the rise from suppliers, putting a different kind of squeeze on restaurants and consumers as costs continue to rise.

Not just small outfits
This is an issue affecting everyone from small, family-run restaurants to those with thousands of locations around the world, according to Yahoo Finance. Taco Bell, under the umbrella of mega-corporation Yum Brands (which also owns KFC, Pizza Hut and more), says it has seen numerous restaurants running low on basic ingredients in its offerings, including beef, tortillas, chicken and even hot sauce. The issue has become so widespread the restaurant recently placed a banner notification in its dedicated app warning users of "national ingredient shortages."

With no end in sight to this issue, it's important for restaurants to keep an eye on these shortages and continually strategize to find solutions that can keep their customers happy and their operations running smoothly.

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