Marcel Vogler: “Christmas trading period will be more challenging than ever”
Hamburg/Versmold. 07/10/2021. Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, logistics market challenges continue to increase throughout Europe in the second half of 2021. The end of the lockdown in almost all European countries, coupled with activity ramping up across all sectors, has led to overall capacity demands far exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels for more than five months. Marcel Vogler, Executive Director Transport at Nagel-Group, explains Nagel-Group’s assessment of the current situation in the market, the challenges for the Christmas trading period, and the measures Germany’s largest food logistics company is taking.
Marcel Vogler, Executive Director Transport der Nagel-Group
Mr Vogler, the shortage of drivers is a pervasive problem. It is also becoming increasingly challenging to find skilled workers in logistics. How do you explain the situation?
The COVID-19 pandemic served as an accelerator for known developments in many areas. Last year, thousands of drivers and logistics workers, affected by the decline in volumes in specific sectors in the form of permanent or temporary lay-offs and short-time working, were forced out of the market prematurely and permanently. They have found other jobs that are now more attractive. For drivers, the desire to reconcile work and family means they are less willing to move and travel. The result is a further reduction in available foreign employees for the European market. The shortage of skilled workers and drivers in logistics has never been more noticeable. There is intense Europe-wide competition for these highly valuable employees.
Looking ahead, what do you expect for the upcoming Christmas trading period?
At the moment, global supply chains are severely disrupted. Thus, we are experiencing supply bottlenecks in almost all sectors. These lead to longer delivery times, make it challenging to plan, and result in price hikes. Food logistics and the upcoming high volume peak Christmas period are particularly affected by this. We have already exceeded the volumes usually seen during the Christmas period in the summer. The available capacities were insufficient to serve the demand side as reliably as usual. Volumes continue to rise, and the actual demand in the fourth quarter of 2021 can only be estimated. However, one thing is certain: it will be historically high. Not only that, but the short-term measures will be unable to meet demand fully. The 2021 Christmas trading period will be more challenging than ever.
How are you responding to the situation? Is there any improvement in sight?
Unfortunately, the outlook is sobering. Especially in relation to the driver shortage: in its latest study, the International Road Transport Union (IRU) forecasts a shortfall of around 185,000 drivers in Germany by 2027. According to the study, there is currently a shortfall of at least 60,000 drivers. The current situation in the UK is a stark reminder of where this can all lead. I think we need to do more to promote logistics and career opportunities at Nagel-Group. We also need to convey to people that it is an exciting profession in a systemically important industry. As a driver, you can make a good living and provide a critical service to society. At some point, this must also be recognised by society as a whole. However, at present, it is even a frequent challenge to convey logistics costs to the end customer. We need a different understanding if we want a stable supply chain and, in the future, climate-neutral logistics. This is a challenge that we as an industry must tackle together with our customers.
What is Nagel-Group’s outlook for the coming weeks?
Our mission is to ensure reliable supply chains for one of the most important industries – the food market – this drives us today as it has for decades. At Nagel-Group, we have refocused our priorities. We are now leveraging all central and decentralised resources available for the second half of the year to accomplish this goal in this historic Christmas season. It will not be easy, but we will do everything we can to prevent empty supermarket shelves.
The Nagel-Group, headquartered in Versmold/East Westphalia, is a family-owned company operating throughout Europe and specialising in food logistics. The group employs more than 12,000 people at over 130 European locations. Every day, it transports around 100,000 food consignments of all sizes and temperature classes throughout Europe. This makes the unique network the leader in Germany and the leading provider of temperature-controlled logistics services in Europe.
Whether it’s frozen products, meat, dairy products, coffee or confectionery – day after day, the Nagel-Group helps ensure that consumers throughout Europe find the right goods at the right time and in the right quality at the point of sale on behalf of industry and trade. In this way, the Nagel-Group makes a significant contribution to the success of its customers. The range of services extends from procurement logistics, transport and distribution to warehousing, order picking and packaging, as well as value-added services such as display construction, labelling and customs clearance. Foodstuffs are moved in all temperature classes (from ambient to frozen). The entire range of shipment sizes also finds its way through the Nagel-Group’s European network: from parcels to general cargo, part loads and full loads to tanker loads. A secure and high-performance IT landscape rounds off the service.