Tea & Coffee Firms Beat 24 Sectors, Make the Biggest Cut in Delivery Delays Due to COVID-19

Unleashed’s Product Lead Time Index used data from its inventory management software to track how product fulfillment has changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to the index, tea and coffee businesses were the leading sub-sector in slashing its lead times since the most challenging phase of the pandemic, dropping by 61.9 percent between 2020/21 and 2021/22 and reducing lead times from an average of 8.5 days to 3.2. 

Unleashed is cloud-focused software company that gives product businesses clarity and control across the supply chain, production, inventory and sales, helping companies of all sizes – from start-ups to international enterprises.

Average Product Lead Times for Tea/Coffee Increased in 2020/2021

The tea and coffee industry was one of the most affected sectors during the peak of the pandemic, with average delivery lead times in 2020/2021 growing by 46.5 percent since before the pandemic struck.

The analysis of more than 2,500 businesses and 25 different sub-sectors – including textiles, IT and plastics – shows which ones experienced the most severe shortages during the COVID-19 crisis – and which recovered fastest as it subsided.

The sub sectors with the biggest reduction in lead times since the height of the pandemic are:

Product Lead Time Index - Tea - Coffee
(Source: Unleashed's Product Lead Time Index)

Lead time is defined as the amount of time between when a purchase order is placed to replenish products and when the order is received in the warehouse. These times can vary between suppliers, where typically the more suppliers involved in the chain, the longer the lead time is likely to be.

‘Suppliers Are Working Hard to Build Resilience’

Stephen Jones, regional manager for the UK & EMEA at Unleashed, said, “Global supply chains are complex, and while the market has been more uncertain than usual, our data suggests that suppliers are working hard to build resilience. In fact, for many, the crises have only strengthened their resolve. Given how much lead times have dropped in some sub-sectors, their efforts are clearly paying off.”

Joned added: “Keeping a tight rein on inventory is essential at any time but particularly during periods of disruption. When product lead times are fluctuating, the right technology can quickly show you the actual vs expected lead times which allows you to manage customer expectations, or look for alternative suppliers who can deliver faster.”

Ben Vear, general manager, EMEA, at the coffee company Minor Figures, noted: “Part of the reason behind these figures is likely to be down to more businesses across the food and beverage industry moving towards a just-in-case model of stock control, and this has been key to cutting lead times over the past couple of years despite the obvious challenges.”

Vear said, “We’re holding additional stock, we work to quite a tight tunnel of inventory that we want to keep in stock, and that might be four to six weeks, but when your performance needle is constantly moving, it’s really tough to get a read on what four to six weeks of stock actually looks like.”

For more information about Unleashed’s research into supply chain and various sectors, including the tea/coffee market, click here.

To learn more about Unleashed, visit UnleashedSoftware.com.

Research Methodology

To create the Product Lead Time Index and to learn how different sub sector’s lead times were affected by and since the COVID-19 pandemic, Unleashed analyzed data gathered from its own inventory management software users. 

The average delivery order time in days for 25 different industries for the last three years were analyzed to work out an average day rate for each figure for the following ranges: April 2019 - March 2020; April 2020 - March 2021; and April 2021 - March 2022.

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World Tea Conference + Expo, March 27-29, 2023

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