Food pallets in short supply in Omaha

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 5:09 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - All the food in grocery stores arrives on pallets, and currently the pallets that get food to the stores are in short supply.

Robert Kimball manages Wohlner’s Grocery in Omaha. He’s been in the business for years and never had to deal with a pallet shortage.

“I’m an independent operator, and many of us require our groceries on time and pallets are a necessity,” he said.

Steve Gallucci is the chief operating officer of Palleton Inc. He said the wood shortage began before COVID-19, when wildfires took out a lot of forests in the northwestern U.S. It shut down a lot of logging operations. Then, COVID-19 hit, and that shuttered the mills. Then there was a demand for lumber for homebuilders.

“In the last 16 months, pallet prices for us have had to go up 261%, and that’s all based on material costs going up,” he said. “It’s kind of like a perfect storm. All the things happened all at once in this chain reaction to cause this dilapidation of the market for pallets, and now you’re seeing huge influxes in prices.”

Palleton is cranking out the pallets, but it has had to make adjustments and additions to keep up with demand.

“We have hired more employees and bought new machinery so we could build more pallets,” Gallucci said. “Just because the demand for pallets is so high right now, we can’t even keep up with all the orders we have been getting calls for.”

Producing pallets is so important, Gallucci tells 6 News his business was considered a critical infrastructure company.

“Homeland Security put out a letter they deemed critical infrastructure,” Gallucci said. “We were one of those companies. Basically, if there’s no pallets, there’s no food.”

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