Last reviewed 7 May 2021

The British Standards Institution (BSI) has published its annual “Supply Chain Risk Insights” 2021 report identifying the trends and associated risks likely to impact global supply chains in the year ahead.

It highlights ongoing challenges from Covid-19 with economic hardship increasing the risk of labour exploitation, human rights violations and stowaway smuggling.

Food fraud and safety will continue to challenge supply chain resilience, it suggests, while regulatory changes will test organisational adaptability.

Available at https://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/our-services/consulting/supply-chain-risk/supply-chain-reports (contact details are required), the report sheds light on these threats, and the progress made in addressing ongoing challenges, while offering guidance on best practices that can be used to counter and manage risk.

“Many of the Covid-19 related challenges that organisations faced in 2020 forced them to adjust in novel ways to maintain their supply chain continuity, integrity, and overall resilience,” BSI points out. “Yet, at the same time, the spread of the virus seemed to merely exacerbate historical trends and known risks such as cargo crime, man-made disruptions and political protests, which all remain as risks to supply chain resilience in 2021.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, BSI intelligence noted an overall increase in stolen medical supplies last year.

As the spread and impact of Covid-19 reduces, it expects cargo theft trends to return to pre-pandemic levels, with certain types of goods losing value again, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), and the resumption in trade leading to more movement of vehicles, restoring thieves’ opportunities to again strike this transportation mode.

Given the significant level of global food shortages, BSI found that the risk of food fraud is on the rise. Specifically, alcohol and tobacco products saw a global increase in thefts and counterfeiting, given their increasing value and related shortages, as consumption rose while people were in lockdown.