US supply chain issues: Alcohol vendors fear pushing customers away if they raise prices

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Supply chain issues continue to impact companies in southeast Texas including those in the beer, spirits, and wine businesses.

Jean-Franois Bonneté is the president of BCI, a family-owned company that helps import wine into the United States. Bonneté told ABC13 ongoing delays will continue to impact consumers. They're finding innovative ways to work around the challenges.

"There will be some empty shelves. Everybody is doing their best," said Bonneté. "Normally by the time we pick up at our distilleries and wineries in France, for instance, to the time we get it to our warehouse in New York, it would be an eight to 10 days' timeframe. Right now, with everything being postponed, it can easily take eight, 10, or 12 weeks."

Michelle Hundley is the chief marketing officer at Gulf Coast Distillers. She said issues with the supply chain started with the COVID-19 pandemic and continued into 2021. She said they started looking at sourcing materials closer to home, then relying on overseas vendors.

"It's cost-prohibitive when we have supplies that aren't able to come in on time," said Hundley. "For example, labels for bottles. We can't bottle our spirits until we have the labels to do so. I think it's going to continue to be an issue across the industry as well as other industries. We are developing our local and domestic relationships to continue to meet our customers' needs."

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Meagan Morris is the founder of Sip Hip Hooray, which offers customized party goods. Morris said the word "pivot" defined the last year. They continue to see challenges with bringing in products and delays in shipping.

"I think the biggest takeaway is I really thought 2020 would make everyone kinder," said Morris. "It's been a little rough with customer service. I would say my biggest takeaway on a consumer side would be patience and kindness with all the companies while we get through the holidays. We want to sell every product we have. We don't want to tell people, 'No.' We're all learning as consumers and business owners."

Jennifer Prothow owns ErmaRose Winery. She said she's experienced supply chain issues now for more than a year. She hopes customers can be understanding. She's been reluctant to pass along rising costs.

"If I rise my prices, I feel like I'm pushing my customers out," said Prothow. "It's been a struggle. It's also been a struggle because customers truly don't understand all the issues we run into with supply issues."

SEE ALSO: COVID's impact on trade may last another year and a half, University of Houston expert says
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Stacks of shipping containers filled with the goods Americans buy every day are backing up in ports around the country.



Eyewitness News continues to look at the impact to your money that the supply chain challenges pose. Keep up to date with Steve Campion on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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