Restaurants face new challenge: A shortage of take-out containers and coffee cups

Consumers are returning in droves to restaurants, but the continued demand for takeout exacerbates shortages of items such as plastic straws, coffee cups, and to-go containers.

For months, bottlenecks in the global supply chain have reverberated throughout the economy, as the health crisis has created bottlenecks and other new challenges for businesses. Critical components such as semiconductors have been in short supply, causing ripple effects across a variety of industries.

Supply chain challenges have resulted in rising food costs and shortages of key ingredients such as chicken for the restaurant industry. And even as consumers return to ordering from restaurants on a more regular basis, many continue to eat their meals outside of dining rooms. According to the NPD Group, off-premise restaurant orders increased 20% in September compared to the same period two years ago. Increased demand for takeout containers, napkins, and to-go cups places additional strain on restaurant supply chains.

“It’s about more than food. It’s paper products, plastic products, and just about everything else — the packaging for the products we receive,” Penn Station East Coast Subs President Craig Dunaway explained.

Packaging companies that produce takeout containers, straws, and to-go cups for restaurants have had to contend with rising shipping container costs, a nationwide labour shortage, and increased costs for critical materials such as resin and paper.

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