Manitoba industries grapple with transportation system ravaged by severe flooding



The evolving crisis in southern British Columbia severed the main transportation networks used to ship products from the Port of Vancouver to the rest of Canada.

It is a disaster that is unfolding in one province, but it is felt in the supply chain across the country.

“Basically, as you know, that’s cut right now, whether it’s by train or by truck,” said Randy Zasitko, director of corporate supply chain for Winpak, a global packaging company with a manufacturing plant located in Winnipeg that employs 700 people. people.

Zasitko said the floods put additional strain on an already strained supply chain.

He said the Winnipeg-based company’s plant obtains materials from all over the world, including through the Port of Vancouver, which it relies on to manufacture high-barrier packaging for perishable foods like meats and the cheeses you find on store shelves.

“We make stuff and products that you would see every day when you shop, whether it’s standing pouches, whether it’s your bacon wrappers,” Zasitko said.

With the Port of Vancouver cut off from the rest of Canada, Zasitko said some of the company’s materials are now stranded on ships off the coast of British Columbia. plans in place to deal with disasters like the flooding in British Columbia.

Paul Larson, professor of supply chain management at the University of Manitoba, said finding the unexpected would be essential for businesses to cope with the effects of climate change.

“This type of disaster happens, it seems, over and over and over and over again,” Larson said, adding that consumers had a choice to make.

“I think it’s also an opportunity to take a closer look at the opportunities for local production, consuming local produce,” Larson said.

Experts said one of the biggest challenges amid this most recent supply chain disruption could be in the grain industry.

With the tracks washed away, Wade Sobkowich of the Western Grain Elevator Association said some grain shipments destined for the Port of Vancouver have stalled and it is not known when the trains will start running again.

“Right now we have around 1,000 cars that are on track while they wait to pass,” Sobkowich said.

Despite all the challenges, Winpak said it does not anticipate any impact on its customers or on the availability of products that consumers buy in stores.

“Our goal is to protect food, protect the consumer and extend shelf life,” Zasitko said.

As concerns about the impact of climate change grow, Zasitko highlighted Winpak’s work to make its packaging and production processes more sustainable.

He said procuring materials has become much more expensive, but most of the increases are due to supply chain issues that have arisen as a result of the pandemic.


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