Shortages expected as many prepare for summer activities

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While Memorial Day is a somber remembrance of sacrifice, the last weekend in May also signals the unofficial start of summer, bringing with it thoughts of road trips, poolside lounging and backyard barbeques. This year, if you’re looking for gasoline or a rental car for that road trip, chlorine for the pool, or chicken and hot dogs to throw on the grill, you might be out of luck.

Industry experts predict fuel shortages this summer, with gas prices increasing, due in part to the Texas freeze that curtailed a fifth of US oil-refining capacity for weeks, and the May shutdown of the country’s largest fuel pipeline by a ransomware attack, according to Business Insider. Business Insider also reports that OPEC’s slowness in curbing production cuts has led to lower gasoline-production rates, making gasoline a more valuable commodity. CNN Business says the most critical issue is a shortage of the truckers needed to drive the tankers to deliver gas to stations, not necessarily a shortage of crude oil or gasoline. The trade group, the National Tank Truck Carriers, reports that 20% to 25% of tank trucks are parked because qualified drivers are scarce.

The rental car situation might also be challenging for travelers because of the increased demand for cars, high rental prices and a shortage of vehicles. Fox Business reports that per-day prices for rental cars for Memorial Day weekend are almost double compared to last year. As for the car shortage, when travel was down during the pandemic, rental car companies sold some of their cars to save money. While companies typically sell cars and buy new replacements to update their fleets, this year they’re finding a lack of available cars for purchase due to the computer chip shortage.

For those staying at home rather than hitting the road, the costs of maintaining the pool in the backyard, including the price of chlorine, are also rising. The shortage of chlorine leading to higher prices is due mostly to a fire last August during Hurricane Laura in a Louisiana plant producing pool and spa treatment products, according to Money Talks News. Money Talks News reports that pool owners can expect an increase of approximately 58% in the price of chlorine this summer.  

And then there’s the potential paucity of drumsticks or encased meat for those cookouts. According to Money Talks News, you can blame the chicken shortage on the severe winter weather in chicken-producing states that caused a reduction in the supply of chickens just when people were craving comfort food like hot wings. And the hot dogs? As many people still feel more comfortable getting together outside, especially in the warm weather of summer, the demand for hot dogs and other meat for grilling remains high while the supply does not. According to Business Insider, pork companies are still struggling to overcome lower production rates in 2020 due to COVID-19 and the closing of many meat-processing plants, and then disease in the hog population this past winter.

While some products like gas, rental cars, chlorine, chicken and pork might be in short supply at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic – the list also includes oxygen, lumber, plastics and palm oil, corn, household products like toilet paper and diapers, furniture, imported foods like cheese, coffee and olive oil, and more – companies like CJ Logistics continue to work hard to move CPG and healthcare goods through the supply chain, ensuring that end customers receive materials essential in their lives. “We’re excited to continue our growth with our strategic partners,” Senior VP Operations Patrick Swartz said, “and to be an integral part of the healthcare supply chain that proves to be of utmost importance to people everywhere – a fact particularly highlighted over the past year with our efforts to support the pandemic response.”

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