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Wednesday, 25 August 2021 07:55

Covid stresses export sector

Written by Peter Burke
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Charles Finny says the Covid-19 pandemic has put incredible pressure on New Zealand's supply chain. Charles Finny says the Covid-19 pandemic has put incredible pressure on New Zealand's supply chain.

It's been a terrible 18 minths for exporters, according to international trade consultant Charles Finny.

He says the Covid-19 pandemic has put incredible pressure on New Zealand's supply chain managers trying to ensure that exports make it to critical markets on time, in good condition.

Finny says it's hard to imagine the toll this has taken on such people.

"They can have all the documentation prepared for a particular port, on a particular day and time, and then all of sudden the vessel doesn't turn up," he told Rural News.

"It just sails past the port and the supply chain people have to redo all that documentation again at short notice. This is just an example that long term planning goes out the door and people have to do things by the seat of their pants."

Finny says exporting companies are being very innovative in the way that they are handling the logistical problems caused by Covid. He says some are increasingly turning to air freight to meet commitments to get products to market.

He says they are looking at creative ways of using shipping, with some companies such as Zespri chartering their own vessels. Finny says there is also a trend by some companies to lease more storage space in certain markets to ensure continuity of supply.

He told Rural News that back in NZ there is a huge amount of cooperation taking place between companies to share coolstore space.

"We have been really lucky in keeping our markets open, but that is because we have had people thinking outside the square, innovating and working incredible hours to find solutions."

Finny says while it would be wrong to describe the present challenges with Covid as similar to war, the fact is, there are people on alert 24/7, 365 days a year - not dissimilar to people on a war footing.

"There are a lot of people who are under enormous stress and we should not forget that."

Finny jokes that he would like to make the supply chain boring again when everything is working well, ships are arriving on time and things like documentation are done on a routine basis. He'd like to see a return to the days when people can turn up to a store and buy a refrigerator and it is delivered the next day, instead of in six months.

Logistics are not the only problem facing exporters, according to Finny.

He says the inability to travel due to Covid is a major issue when it comes to developing new market opportunities.

"I think the challenge in the short term is maintaining relationships, and we can do that by lots of phone calls, Zoom meetings and using agents in markets more than before.

"But it is incredibly difficult to build the type of close relationship that is so essential to doing business in Asia remotely, so we are going to have to travel to develop those relationships."

Read 4129 times Last modified on Monday, 23 August 2021 11:36

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