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Supply chain problems put squeeze on Manitoba winemaker

A Manitoba winemaker is worried rising prices caused by supply chain problems around the world may mean he has to rise prices for consumers. Luis Hidalgo/The Canadian Press

A Manitoba winemaker said he may have no choice but to raise the price of raising a glass of his beverages as global supply chain problems continue to put the squeeze on his operation.

Shrugging Doctor Beverage Company owner Willows Christopher said the same supply problems that are leading to reports of empty shelves and surging prices for consumers are also affecting local producers like him.

Read more: Why everything you want is out of stock or more expensive

“The shortages have been pretty much extending to everything,” Christopher told 680 CJOB Monday.

“Hopefully, things correct themselves and get back to normal because I don’t know how much more of this kind of stuff manufacturing can take.”

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Global shipping disruptions from container shortages to shipping backlogs have had retailers recently warn consumers to start holiday shopping early.

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Labour shortages, a lack of shipping containers, a surge in online shopping, a shortage of semiconductor chips, and clogged ports in many regions around the world are among the factors causing the problems, experts have said.

Shrugging Doctor makes a wide array of adult beverages, including ciders, wines, vodka sodas, and mead.

Because many of Shrugging Doctor’s products need to sit for a year or more before hitting shelves, Christopher said the current shipping problems haven’t affected his business much yet.

Read more: Global supply chain crisis: Why consumers should start holiday shopping now

But he said he’s worried about having to raise his prices for the beverages he’s brewing now.

“It’s starting to really hit us now,” he said.

“I grew up in Winnipeg. I don’t want to pay $30 for a bottle of wine. But I mean, what do you do?”

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Consumers seeing delays, higher prices due to supply chain strain – Oct 25, 2021

He said the price of wine bottles has shot up between 20 and 30 per cent, corks have doubled in price, and there’s a shortage of aluminum cans.

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The problems with shipping have also meant his supplies are not only more expensive, they’re also taking a lot longer to arrive.

He said orders that used to take a couple of weeks are now taking months.

And to make matters worse, Christopher said the drought conditions Manitoba saw this past summer mean even the local supplies he buys — fruits like raspberries, cranberries, and strawberries — are as much as four times as expensive.

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“If prices don’t go back down, then yes, I guess we have to increase prices, but I’m trying to avoid that …  if I can.”

But the pandemic hasn’t been all bad, Christopher said.

He said the push to buy local has led to a marked increase in business through farmers’ markets and home delivery, something he sees as a benefit to both producers and consumers during the supply chain crunch.

“I think there has been a big shift in people coming out and realizing that if they don’t support local businesses, there won’t be any local businesses,” he said.

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“Being able to go down to a farmer’s market and buy stuff from local makers not only helps the local businesses, but also helps the consumer get a better product quicker.”

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Last week the International Monetary Fund warned that supply chain disruptions will likely mean “more difficult near-term prospects” for advanced economies, and trimmed its global economic growth forecast for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the federal government is watching the situation “very, very closely” after meeting with U.S. lawmakers last week.

Read more: Supply chain snarls: Freeland says Canada watching ‘very, very closely’ for spillover

“In terms of Canada, we are definitely mindful of the supply chain issues in the Canadian economy. We are monitoring the supply chain and Canadian ports very, very closely,” she told journalists on Thursday.

“Turning an economy back on is uneven and that natural unevenness is compounded by the fourth wave of the coronavirus. We need to be realistic of that, mindful of that, but I think we can also have a very confident outlook about Canada’s economic resilience and about our economic recovery.”

— with files from Amanda Connolly

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