Product blocked by convoy is the latest in restaurant supply chain problems

“The last three weeks…since this happened, it’s definitely escalated”

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Some Calgary restaurants are feeling the effects of an anti-warrant protest that blocked Alberta’s most important border crossing for nearly three weeks.

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The 18-day standoff in Coutts, with protesters demonstrating against public health orders imposed by the provincial and federal governments, ended on Tuesday after 13 people were arrested. Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters said about $750 million in trade had been affected by the blockade and some industry groups said the long freeze on cross-border trade could have serious repercussions on Canada’s reputation as a partner. reliable trader.

Palomino Smokehouse general manager Arron Crook said already strained supply chains had been made even less reliable in February, with food orders being frequently shortened. Crook said he wasn’t sure if the border blockade at Coutts and others across the country had played a part in the recent exacerbation of the problems, but some basic items were in short supply.

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“The last three weeks. . . since that happened, it has definitely increased,” he said. “Especially meat, beef, chicken, pork. Alcohol seems fine, but food has been tough right now.

Facing similar issues, Chestermere’s Dockside Bar and Grill was forced to change its menu, canceling its chicken wings promotion on Wednesday night.

“Due to crossing the border, we cannot get our product,” owner Nora Abraham wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “Therefore, we don’t have enough wings for Wing Wednesday! I am so sorry and very sad.

The protests are just the latest supply chain squeeze incident that has plagued the industry of late. Throughout the pandemic, restaurants have struggled to get orders on time due to border crossing rules and several item shortages, coupled with staffing issues and ever-changing health orders. .

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“I’m not really confident enough to comment specifically if this is one of those truck blockages, but what I do know is there’s a ton of market pressure on everything” said Chris Theodossopolos, owner of Atlas Pizza in northeast Calgary.

“Mushrooms, for example, here in Alberta were really hard to get. Why? Our factory burned down.

Some other restaurants said that despite warnings from food suppliers about limited availability, business has been business as usual for the past few weeks.

“We were certainly warned and advised that we might see some product delays, but we never did,” said Jason Smith, general manager of Tipperary’s Pub in the North West.

In a statement to Postmedia, national spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada, Michelle Wasylyshen, said the RCC is “relieved” by the reopening of the Coutts border crossing, but remains concerned about the effect that Other protests, including the one that paralyzed downtown Ottawa for three weeks, could have nationwide.

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“Canadian businesses have suffered under the pressure of constant disruption over the past two years, and the success of the recovery cannot be more threatened by the blockades that threaten the continued supply of food and goods to Canadians,” said said Wasylyshen.

“Each day that these disruptions continue across the country is another day that puts pressure on retailers’ ability to manage shelf availability, not to mention the increased risk of price hikes for many products that Canadian families have been longing for. need.”

The backlog for many shipments did not occur at the Coutts border but was due to companies being unwilling to send trucks until the border issue was resolved, according to the vice -President of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Alberta and Saskatchewan Division, David MacLean. He estimates the backlog at two to three weeks, and potentially four to six months to regain balance in the supply chain.

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