Suez canal ever given
The Ever Given, trapped in the Suez Canal, Egypt, as of Thursday March 25 2021.
Suez Canal Authority
  • The Suez Canal blockage is adding to a host of other supply chain issues.
  • The freighter is larger than the Empire State Building and could take weeks to move.
  • The logjam will impact the availability of numerous imports, including toilet paper and coffee.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Suez Canal jam could cause another shortage of toilet paper, as well as coffee, furniture, and other imported goods.

Depending on how long it takes to move the hulking 224,000-ton freighter – said to be bigger than the Empire State Building – that ran aground on Tuesday, shoppers could see a shortage of numerous items in stores.

It will impact "basically anything you see in the stores," Lars Jensen, an independent container shipping expert based in Denmark, told NBC News.

The Egyptian waterway which connects Europe and Asia accounts for about 12% of global trade. The Ever Given, one of the largest vessels in the canal, has been blocking hundreds of cargo ships from passing through the channel.

Even before the Suez Canal blockage, businesses were struggling with supply shortages because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nike, Costco, Toyota, Honda, and Samsung all said supply chain issues were negatively impacting their business this quarter and would likely have an impact going forward.

The Suez Canal logjam has added another layer to the delays and shortages. The blockage is costing about $400 million an hour in goods and the stuck vessel could take weeks to move. Some ships will take an alternate route around Africa, adding 15,000 miles and about two weeks to a cargo vessel's journey.

Shoppers could be facing another toilet paper shortage

empty store shelves
Toilet paper shelves are empty at a Save Mart supermarket during the Covid-19-Coronavirus emergency in Porterville.
Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

One of the biggest producers of the pulp used to create toilet paper, Suzano SA, told Bloomberg the Suez Canal jam will likely delay wood pulp shipments, and as a result the availability of toilet paper in stores.

Suzano SA is responsible for over one-third of toilet paper in the world. Its CEO Walter Schalka said competition for shipping containers will likely push Suzano's shipments back at least a month, Bloomberg reports.

The delay in producing and delivering toilet paper comes during a time when people have taken to stockpiling toilet paper and household goods because of the coronavirus pandemic. Customers could soon be facing a similar situation to what they saw a year ago when toilet paper availability reached a premium.

Toilet paper prices may also go up as port delays, even outside of the Suez Canal, increase the price of shipping overseas.

Coffee supplies could be depleted due to the logjam at the waterway

coffee grinder

The Suez Canal jam is also blocking shipping containers full of coffee, in particular the type of coffee used to create instant coffee, according to Bloomberg. Nescafe will be one of the brands most impacted, they found.

The coffee shortage will likely be felt more keenly in Europe, but will reverberate throughout the globe, as the waterway is blocking key shipments between Vietnam and Europe, Bloomberg reports.

The shortage could soon impact coffee availability in stores and cafes, especially considering coffee companies have already been feeling the pinch due to shipping container shortages and port delays for the past few months, according to the head of logistics at Swiss coffee trader Sucafina SA, Raphaelle Hemmerlin.

"Can roasters support two to three weeks of delays? Probably not," Hemmerlin told Bloomberg. "I don't think they have the buffer stock that they normally have."

Customers are already reporting delays in furniture deliveries, which will only get worse

red couch thrift shop furniture shopping

The work-from home lifestyle necessitated by the pandemic has helped the home improvement and furniture industries boom.

Customers are already seeing furniture delivery dates delayed for several months. During its third quarter earnings call La-Z-Boy said customers should expect delivery dates that are five to nine months out from the purchase date.

The delay in furniture availability was made worse by existing congestion at ports, especially in Southern California, a key drop-off for containers from Asia. The US gets nearly 58% of its furniture from China, according to Reuters - a supply chain heavily reliant on the Suez Canal. In addition, a lot of the individual materials used to make furniture in the US also come from China.

The CEO of Kasala Dan Flickinger, a Seattle based furniture chain, told The Washington Post that orders placed in March aren't expected to arrive at his store until December.

"A lot of our furniture is handmade and requires a tremendous amount of components, so one missing piece can really mess up a whole lot of production," Flickinger told The Post.

Gas prices are expected to continue to skyrocket due to the shipping delay

gas station
A man fills up a car at a filling station.
Alexander RyuminTASS via Getty Images

Gas prices have skyrocketed over the past month, as demand rises and OPEC has been slow to boost production in key oil-producing countries.

The Suez Canal account for 5% to 10% of global oil shipments, the chief economist at Argus Media David Fyfe told CNBC.

The Suez Canal blockage will impact most imported goods, particularly supplies from China. The US relies heavily on China for numerous goods worth hundreds of billion of dollars, including electrical machinery, furniture, toys and sports equipment, as well as plastic, according to data from Investopedia.

BluJay Solutions, a provider of global supply chain software, told Insider that several seafood companies with exports between Europe and Alaska are already feeling the impact of the canal blockage.

Experts say the logjam couldn't have come at a worse time

Suez canal ever given
The Ever Given, trapped in the Suez Canal, Egypt, as of Thursday March 25 2021.
Suez Canal Authority

Jon Monroe, maritime trade and logistics consultant with Jon Monroe Consulting, told CNBC this delay will impact the arrival of US imports that fill store shelves as well as US manufacturing components.

"Before the Suez Canal disruption, we were expecting the container situation to get worse in April because we were already seeing the scarcity of containers," Monroe said. "This canal closure will not help. You will start to see product piling up on factory floors."

Brian Bourke, Chief Growth Officer of SEKO Logistics told CNBC, the blockage is creating the perfect storm for retailers who are struggling to restock.

"The timing of this could not be worse," he told CNBC. "You have stimulus checks going into the hands of consumers. After every stimulus check, we have seen a huge surge in product volume. We are talking to businesses that are running out of inventory. How can you have a stimulus if you can't buy anything? Your wait for your couch can be longer than three months."

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