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How Supply Chain Issues Affect the Price of Your Groceries

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Over the last year, the term “supply chain” has probably flickered across your screens at least a few times. Backups at shipping ports, labor shortages, and the increased cost of basic materials like boxes and buckets have been top stories. Still, it can be unclear how these changes actually affect us all until the moment the sticker shock sinks in at the grocery store. 

At Imperfect, these disruptions in the supply chain have impacted us and our farmer and producer partners. This means that you might see a price increase for some of our items and potential order delays next time you shop with us.

Hopefully, this disruption will be temporary but until we are on the other side of this, we want to share what we are doing to keep prices down for you and maintain support for our farmer and producer partners. From the beginning, we’ve prioritized transparency – about our food system and our sourcing practices – and this time is no different.

In the case of Imperfect, we’re talking about the supply chain as it relates to the food system – how food is grown, processed, packaged, and transported from the farm to your door. Since it’s an interconnected chain, if one link is impacted, the whole system feels it. We’re seeing big changes in labor, transportation, and the price of materials, which in turn affects the cost of our food, the cost of the packaging it comes in to keep it fresh, and the cost to deliver it to your door. 

Labor shortages

There’s a lot going on here. Economists say much of the labor shortages are caused by folks retiring early, changing jobs, and demanding better pay and more flexible work at an unprecedented rate. People are also feeling unsafe at work with current COVID-19 conditions and are relying on their savings for the time being. 

All this means that if an apple farmer needs to hire 12 laborers to thin trees and pick apples, they’re going to have a hard time finding folks who will do the work for the standard pay. So if that farmer needs to pay more in order to attract enough workers this year, that increase in cost is going to show up for you when you want to make apple pie this holiday season. At Imperfect, we are doing our best to continue to offer good value by sourcing delicious food that would typically go to waste, which also helps keep farmers afloat. 

Transportation changes

Have you seen gas prices lately? Yikes. When the stay-at-home orders loosened up last year, a lot of folks with cabin fever decided to hit the open road. With everyone from Portland to New York trekking to the Grand Canyon, a lot of gas got guzzled up. It’s classic supply and demand and we’re now seeing the effects of low oil inventories with gas prices up more than $1 a gallon.

For Imperfect, this means that delivering your groceries to you is more expensive than ever. Thankfully, our unique delivery model is set up to be as efficient as possible. By delivering once a week to your entire neighborhood, we cut down on countless individual trips to the store. 

Increase in the cost of materials

The increased cost of materials has put the squeeze on a lot of producers. For example, you might notice your favorite sodas or bubbly waters cost a bit extra lately. This is due to the increased cost of aluminum. As the name “supply chain” suggests, the increased cost in materials is closely tied to the increased price of transportation and labor. That same bubbly water producer is now having to pay more to have their product made and transported. And if they can’t afford the cost, then they have to reduce production. At Imperfect, we’re doing our best to lessen this impact on you by buying items in bulk from our producers and offering items that would typically go to waste at a lower price. Our Packaging Return Program also allows us to reduce our need for new silver liners and gel packs.

In the midst of this supply chain crisis, our partners have been hit hard, but our direct relationships with farmers and producers allow us to source what’s delicious, what’s in season, what’s surplus, and what would have ended up in a landfill. We remain committed to fighting food waste and are doing our best to keep prices down. Our unique sourcing methods, the same ones that probably led you to Imperfect, are what we hope will help us weather this storm and retain your trust in us.

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