Home > International Report > The Americas > Truck drivers desperately wanted by food and beverage companies

The Americas

20 July 2018

Truck drivers desperately wanted by food and beverage companies

At the Beverage Forum in Chicago in April 2018, there was already angsty talk of a shortage of truck drivers, hampering brewers and wholesalers’ ability to get their products into consumers’ hands on time.

“There are ten truckloads waiting to be moved for every driver available right now,” Holly Pixler, Senior Director of Transportation and Logistics at MillerCoors, was quoted as saying.

For its part, MillerCoors has been working to mitigate the effects, Ms Pixler said. The company relies on third-party carriers to move products from its breweries to the independent wholesalers that supply retailers.

There are several reasons for the shortage of qualified commercial drivers. One, a surging US economy and continued double-digit growth of e-commerce. Two, a booming construction industry tying up more trucks; Three, a low unemployment rate. Four, a new federal rule requiring drivers to electronically track their hours behind the wheel.

What brewers and wholesalers do not like to mention but observers say is a pressing problem: many job applicants do not pass the required drug test. This may serve as a forewarning of the disruptions legalised cannabis will cause.

There’s little relief in sight. Without an influx of new drivers, the American Trucking Associations, an industry body, predicts the industry will be short by 63,000 drivers – out of a total of 500,000 – by the end of the year. This number could rise to 170,000 vacancies by 2026.