Amid concerns about supply chain disruptions and shortages in the wake of the riots and looting in parts of South Africa, SAPICS (The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management) has urged consumers not to resort to panic buying and stockpiling.

While there will be limited supplies of some goods in some areas, consumers should trust in the skills and expertise of our supply chain managers and the risk mitigation strategies that many organisations have in place, says SAPICS president MJ Schoemaker.

“One of the greatest threats to supply chains now is panic buying and stockpiling. Consumers who do this are not only taking away from others but also causing more disruption in the supply chain. Panic buying causes supply and demand patterns that are out of the ordinary. 

“It puts increased pressure on retailers, supply chain managers, entire supply chains and consumers. It often forces suppliers to ramp up production to cope with increased demand and may lead to price hikes that will affect consumers, especially the poor. This is then followed by product surpluses affecting organisations and economies.”

Schoemaker says that the unrest in South Africa has undoubtedly put pressure on supply chains and strongly condemns the violence and destruction. “There are concerns about how the riots and looting will affect South Africa’s food security as a result of trucks not moving. 

“Safety concerns for drivers, the looting and burning of vehicles and the closure of some of the country’s main highways has led to trucks not moving, and the transport of some food supplies has been interrupted. South Africa’s export industries will be impacted by the disruptions in the weeks ahead. 

“When goods do start moving again, there will be bottlenecks at South Africa’s ports and delays in getting products to consumers. In terms of local manufacturing, while many South African factories are still running, their trucks cannot deliver. 

“Some wholesalers and retailers closed their distribution centres and warehouses for safety because they were targeted by the mobs. This, combined with the traumatic destruction of so much infrastructure, will result in temporary shortages on some shelves.”

She stresses, however, that while the situation is extremely grave, all is not yet lost. “I would urge South Africans to trust in our supply chain professionals. It is important to remember that different areas and different supply chains will have their own particular challenges. Not all supply chains are created equal. 

“Not all supply chain professionals have the same skills and knowledge, but I am confident that the exceptional supply chain managers who got us through the challenges of the first lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 crisis will come to the fore now. 

“Many lessons are being learnt from the pandemic. Supply chain managers refined their risk mitigation strategies to ensure that they were prepared for any future disruptions. These current disruptions will test and stretch our supply chains as rarely experienced before.”

Schoemaker says that since its foundation in 1966, SAPICS has been developing and upskilling supply chain professionals, and building supply chain management excellence in individuals and enterprises and is proud of its community of accomplished industry professionals. 

“Today, I would like to acknowledge and give special thanks to the supply chain professionals who are trying desperately to do their jobs to keep the country going. SAPICS will continue to offer support and guidance to the profession as it rises to the challenges of this latest disruption to our supply chains in South Africa,” she concludes.