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For Food Retailers Infrastructure Isn’t Just About Reliable Roads

By: Matthew Viohl, Manager, Labor Policy & Sustainability, Government Relations, Food Marketing Institute roads

This week kicked-off the seventh-annual Infrastructure Week, with hundreds of organizations and companies coming together to stress the importance of a reliable, well-managed national infrastructure. This year’s iteration comes at a particularly opportune time, as the President and Congressional leadership in Washington, DC began talks for a bipartisan approach toward addressing our aging roads, railways, airports and waterways.

In today's hyper-partisan atmosphere, infrastructure seems to be one of the few issues advocates on both sides believe common ground can be found. President Donald Trump recently met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to discuss what a solution would look like. Although they’ve tentatively agreed on a $2 trillion price tag, the lawmakers plan to meet again with the President in the coming weeks to iron out the particulars over funding and spending.

Food retailers know all too well though that infrastructure is not just a matter of having reliable roads. As demand for goods rises across the country, so too does the manpower required to deliver them and maintain excellent customer service in grocery stores. DAT Solutions estimated there is only one truck available for every 12 loads needing to be shipped. While part of this is a major backlog on new truck orders, the industry also faces a potential shortfall of nearly 800,000 drivers by 2026 according to comparisons with the American Trucking Associations and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This is why FMI has joined together with other associations in support of the DRIVE-Safe Act, which would help establish an apprenticeship program for new drivers between the ages of 18-20. This bipartisan legislation helps show that both sides can come together to address these critical problems under the umbrella of infrastructure.

In addition, FMI is co-hosting the inaugural TPA Transportation Summit next month with our partners at the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Issue experts and leaders will not only have the chance to discuss these and other supply chain challenges—but also the opportunity to examine what the future holds in store for retailers and manufacturers alike as technology continues to shape our industries.

Tell Congress to Take Action on Drive Shortages