Trucking industry sounds alarm over looming pallet crisis


Peak state transport body, Road Freight NSW (RFNSW), is calling on CHEP and Loscam, amongst others, to “step up” and remedy a looming pallet crisis threatening the delivery of food, groceries and medicines to retailers.

As we saw through the pandemic, RFNSW CEO Simon O’Hara said the major players are back with their own internal pallet economies, while road freight businesses continue to deal with complicated and unfair contract arrangements from pallet companies for the use of pallets.

O’Hara said transport operators should not be put in a position that they have to accept the rental of them.

“The sender and receiver are the ones who should not be able to transfer the charges for what has nothing to do with the transport operator,” said O’Hara.

“The ownership of the freight on the pallets does not transfer to the transport operator and the pallets should be the same.

“This is costing the industry and the pallet renters are getting away with it all.”

O’Hara said that the “ludicrous” nature of pallet arrangements means that his members are paying for pallets they don’t even use.

“And now with chronic shortages; it’s a double whammy.

“It’s time for the ACCC to examine these arrangements and the pallet shortages facing the industry.

“This Christmas, the pallet shortage and these unfair arrangements will only hurt the Australian economy, small business and consumers with higher prices and low stock availability.”

CHEP Australia general manager Lis Mannes told The Australian on Sunday that in the past two years, CHEP had engaged on an ongoing basis with customers to discuss their pallet needs, and had invested more than $100m during this period to increase its pallet pool.

“There are now materially more CHEP pallets in the market than this time last year, more than pre-pandemic, and more than in CHEP’s 70-year history,” Mannes said.

She said in the six months to Christmas 2022, CHEP was on track to add as many new pallets to its pool as it would usually do in a full year, and it would further increase the size of its pallet pool in 2023.

Meanwhile, the ACCC confirmed it was aware of the pallet shortage issue.

“There have been a range of media reports about shortages in the pallet sector. The ACCC will continue to engage with key stakeholders on this issue,” said a spokeswoman.

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