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Supply chains have been buffeted by an unprecedented slew of recent global events, dislocating the flow of goods and fanning inflationary pressures. But the challenges have also accelerated innovation – from businesses investing in artificial intelligence to streamline trade to diversifying suppliers to ensure continued flows of goods. The disruption is creating significant opportunities for investment to help future-proof supply chains against further upheavals.
Supply chains have been strained by the Covid-19 pandemic as suppliers struggle to keep up with surging demand
The Russian military’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated existing supply chain disruption, pushing up energy and key material prices further
Upheaval to trade may impact corporate earnings, but companies are mitigating risks by shaking up their supply chains and investing in technology
Amid the disruption, investors can find opportunities in sectors such as data centres, automation, and agricultural technology
Click the icons below for quick answers to some of the most common supply chain questions.
Geopolitics are creating new flash points
The invasion of Ukraine is an extreme example, but the emergence of two preeminent global ecosystems (centred around the US and China) could hasten supply chain reorganisations and even lead to reshoring.
Covid-19 hit manufacturing, too
A short-lived drop in demand caused manufacturers to scale back production. When demand picked up again, it was hard to keep pace, which pressured delivery times and prices.
Deglobalisation in some sectors is gaining steam
Amid ongoing trade disputes, protectionism is rising and countries are looking to be more selfsufficient. China is pushing consumer spending at home while continuing to promote its manufacturing prowess internationally.
Other unexpected events
Supply chains have been hit hard by severe floods in Europe, a winter storm in Texas and a six-day blockage of the Suez Canal, a major shipping artery.
Energy costs soaring
Higher hydrocarbon prices in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine crisis have made it harder to obtain – and afford – many products and raw materials.
Precious metals pressured
Russia is a big producer of the palladium and nickel used in many high-tech products, and the energy transition is prompting a surge in demand for industrial metals overall.
Semiconductor factories had capacity issues before Covid-19, but the pandemic made it worse. Demand recovered faster than anticipated, and these key parts soon were in short supply for car makers and others.
Food costs rising
Food prices are at record highs, with the geopolitical crisis in one of the world’s bread baskets fanning prices for everything from sunflower oil to cereal.
Booming data centres
These facilities are in high demand, thanks to increasingly complex supply chains, growth in online shopping and the work-fromhome revolution.
Growth in agricultural tech
Soaring food prices mean more interest in food security, opening the way for more investment in agricultural technology and water irrigation equipment.
A surge in renewable energy
Surging hydrocarbon prices and sanctions against Russia will likely mean increased focus on renewable energy – not just in Europe, but around the world.
A robotics revolution
Businesses are turning to robots to find new ways to move goods to customers, and to future-proof their operations against supply and cost risks.
Seek out companies that are responding well to supply chain challenges
To confront surging transport costs and delays in accessing materials, companies are embracing “nearshoring” – transferring manufacturing and other needs to a nearby country.
Some firms have overhauled “just-in-time" models (once a best practice in supply chain management) in favour of “just-in-case" models (which require holding more inventory).
Advanced analytics can help companies plan and navigate supply chain risks, and robotics can help streamline routine tasks such as inventory and fulfilment.
Look for ways to combat inflation
The supply chain story is an inflationary one. Look to combat inflation with investments in:
Value (rather than growth) investments
US high-yield bonds
Global disparity in robot density in the manufacturing industry shows the potential for further investment
Source: World Robotics 2021. Robot density nearly doubled globally – International Federation of Robotics (ifr.org) .
Learn more: For more insights into supply chain disruption, read "Unpacking opportunities from supply chain innovation", available here: www.allianzgi.com/supplychains
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