We Have A Shortage Of Truck Drivers – And The Problem Is Serious

The Lempert Report
July 21, 2021

It was just about 3 years ago to the day that I wrote in my Forbes column how we had a shortage of over 50,000 truck drivers and that would create a huge problem for our food industry.

Forecasts back then in June of 2018 estimated that by 2026 the shortage of drivers would be upward of 175,000. Today, for those who listen to the radio, we are being bombarded by ads attempting to recruit new drivers by raising wages, offering sign up bonuses and other perks. A month or so ago, Tyson reported that the cost of refrigerated transport increased by 12% and that would translate to higher prices for their products sold in supermarkets. Food suppliers of all kinds are desperately trying to find drivers to transport their goods are hiking up wages for truckers to as much as six figures — and some have to raise their food prices as a result, according to a report by The New York Post. The head of outsourcing company Regional Supplemental Services (RSS) that hires truckers, Rich Jennings said he gets "calls from desperate Fortune 500 companies every day that need to move perishable food. One company, the Post writes, said that as well as boosting trucker salaries, it had raised the price of meat by 20% and chocolate by 30% to cope.

Bronx-based food supplier Chefs' Warehouse told the publication that over the past few months it had been hiring some truckers from Alabama and paying for them to stay at hotels in the Bronx because it couldn't find any drivers in the area, despite offering wages of at least $20 an hour. Chefs' Warehouse said it had lost 40% of its drivers and warehouse workers during the pandemic.  Chefs' Warehouse's prices across its 55,000 products rose 7% on average in the first quarter of 2021 the biggest price hikes included a 54% increase for 35-pound tubs of canola and soybean fry oil, 30% for cases of kosher salt, chocolate, and olive oil, and 20% for meat.