It’s no secret that 2020/2021 were challenging years for the packaging industry. The emergence of Covid-19 created a perfect storm of heightened demand, with diminished supply, labor workforce and capacity. We also experienced an unprecedented 3 corrugated industry price increases in less than 12 months-time. These factors, combined with equal or greater challenges in the supply chain and freight industry, made for nothing short of a difficult and trying time for many.
We at Salazar Packaging embraced the challenge head-on, and found ways we could think smarter, perhaps outside the box (forgive the pun) and help lead our customers to solutions to help offset increased costs.
The good news is that 2022 carries optimism surrounding the industry, and below are some of the strongest signs of encouragement as you plan your yearly packaging needs/goals/visions.
Shorter Lead Times
What had bubbled into, in some cases, as high as 6-8 week lead times for custom mailer boxes near the end of the year and holiday season, we have already begun to see some relief in this area. Most applications have seen a return to more normal lead times, closer to the standard 2-4 weeks. As always, lead times will vary, depending on many factors, but it is safe to say we are trending in the right direction.
Return of the Workforce-Increased Labor
This ties to the first point above, as so much of the extended lead times was related to diminished workforce in manufacturing. The most recent data from the US Department of Labor showed unemployment down to 3.9%. This is an encouraging sign and well down from the peak in 2020 of almost 15%. As pandemic-related unemployment benefits ended near the end of 2021, it’s likely to lead to more hiring in our industry as 2022 rolls along, easing some of the stress and pressures that had existed from labor shortages.
Entering the Third Year of the “New Normal”
The term “new normal” has been linked mostly to mask wearing and social distancing efforts, but it mainly speaks to a collective mindset of moving forward despite hardships and changes we’ve endured. Initial Covid spikes sent waves of fear that led to lockdowns, doubt and uncertainty in almost every industry. Recent Covid spikes are a sign that lockdowns are likely behind us, and while the pandemic may not be ending any time soon, our ability to endure despite it is evident. Flexibility in the workplace, including working remotely, in many cases have led to an increase in productivity.
Lean on Experienced Packaging Partners
The pandemic showed us at Salazar Packaging that we must get smarter. Despite nearly 15 years of operation, we needed to adapt to the changing times. This meant finding solutions for customers who needed to right-size or minimize their packaging (reduce excess board, scrap or weight) to offset increased materials and shipping costs. It meant developing innovative packaging solutions like the Ta-Da Box (read more here). It meant expanding our manufacturing network and capabilities. It meant anticipating potential problems before they arrived, and actively seeking solutions.
You can learn more about the ways we helped our customers face packaging and supply chain challenges last year in this post. And be encouraged that you can always lean on a supply partner who is ready to find a packaging solution that works for your needs, and well-prepared to help you face any obstacles along the way.
Please Contact Us Today
As always, if you have any questions on any of our products or services, one of our branded packaging advisors is standing by to assist, with decades of experience behind them. Want to know more about custom packaging options? Please call us at 630-551-1700 or contact us via email at www.SalazarPackaging.com.