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Fast food restaurants and cafes nationwide are experiencing a disposable cup shortage that’s preventing customers from getting their takeaway fixes.
The cup shortage – which is reportedly hitting Starbucks particularly hard – is being blamed on a plastics shortage, port backlogs, and a growing appetite for restaurant-prepared to-go meals.
Samantha Jacobs, a frequent Starbucks customer who lives in California, became aware of the shortage last November while ordering her usual medium hot chocolate.
She was informed by the barista that the cafe had run out of medium-sized cups and instead resorted into splitting grande orders into two smaller cups.
Jacobs, 39, said she’s grown annoyed with Starbucks’ seemingly endless supply challenges since.
‘There is also a chocolate shortage,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘The Target Starbucks ran out of coco and couldn’t make anything that required it.’
A Starbuck spokeswoman told DailyMail.com that ‘select stores’ and that the company was working swiftly to beef up its supply.
Coffee giant Starbucks is among the many restaurants struggling to source takeaway cups for customers amid ongoing supply chain challenges and a shortage of factory workers
An ongoing backlog at the Port of Long Beach is contributing to the shortfall. Container ships are pictured docked at the cargo hub on January 11, 2022.
The company churns through six billion cups a year, according to the Journal.
Of course, the challenge is not unique to Starbucks as the food and beverage industry as a whole grappled with shortages driven by inflation, supply chain backlogs, and a shortage of workers.
Starbucks offers incentive for customers bringing their own mugs
Customers who don’t want to risk being turned away from Starbucks over the cup shortage can avert by crisis by bringing their own cup.
Starbucks offers customers a $0.10 discount on their beverage of choice in exchange for bringing reusable cups to use
The company’s goal is to reduce single-use cup waste by 50 per cent by 2030, a spokesperson said
California‘s popular Wetzel’s Pretzels, a 350-restaurant chain, is among the fast food joints struggling to fulfill customer orders amid the container deficit.’
‘Think about how creative you are in finding a Covid test,’ the company’s chief executive Jennifer Schuler told the Wall Street Journal. ‘It’s like that.’
Although the container shortage has been nothing new – reports began surfacing in mid-2021 – some restaurant owners had hoped the problem would be resolved by now.
The shortage of take-away containers – and a plethora of other consumer goods – is being exacerbated by a shortage of laborers.
The manufacturing industry lost 578,000 jobs in 2020, eroding six years of job gains, according to a recently-released Deloitte study.
And the workforce shortage is only expected to get worse; the manufacturing industry expects to have 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030, according to the report.
Meantime, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach remain congested.
There were 78 container ships in the queue at the Southern California port, 31 fewer than the record of 109 ships set in January, but still significantly higher than pre-pandemic times.
David Pokorny, an Imperial Dade food packaging expert. said last November that he was spending a good portion of his day sourcing packaging products for customers.
‘There’s literally no straws and very, very few clear, iced coffee drink cups,” he told CNBC. ‘There was such a shortage that people said, “I don’t care about the price, just send it to me.”‘
The ongoing supply chain crisis has resulted in a shortage of various consumer goods, ranging from food and clothing to toys and electronics.
Last January, cardboard was in short supply as the pandemic drive up demand for home deliveries.
And a report from last July revealed that more than 50 per cent of survey responds have struggled to source adequate amounts of take-away packaging for their businesses.
‘It’s harder to get. It’s taking longer. It’s more expensive, and it’s really unpredictable,” Fields Good Chicken founder Field Failing told the Nation’s Restaurant News in November.
‘It’s whatever you can get right now.’