For the past year here at CHD, we have faced one of the most unforeseen challenges yet — a global foam shortage! As one might guess, foam is a crucial component to creating and restoring furniture. Throughout the world, furniture and design companies have seen a boom in demand while simultaneously staring down a sticky supply chain situation.
The backlog started in 2019, first reported by Europe’s top five, largest manufacturers. The growth in the automotive, furniture, and construction industries triggered a high demand for product that simply could not be efficiently met. The chemicals used to make the most widely used foam in furniture are normally transported by railroad or tank truck and there is a maximum amount of product that can be transported at a time, causing issues when there is high demand. Foam itself is also bulky and lightweight, so it is generally not efficient from a cost perspective to ship it very far. In addition, most US factories were already running at full capacity in production. EverChem Specialty Chemicals, an industrial chemical maker, explains, “When the pandemic hit last March, there was a lot of uncertainty about future demand. The entire furniture-foam-polyol-PO chain of production slowed to a crawl. No one predicted that the demand for bedding and furniture would increase while people were in lockdown.”
While there were already miscalculations in demand, a severe shortage in supply along with several challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters throughout the South and Northwest presented additional production hurdles. The tragic storms and horrific freezes we saw throughout the United States further disrupted an already struggling supply chain. Per Dennis Seid, a journalist for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, “The foam shortage in the furniture industry has been an issue since the fall [of 2019] but has been exacerbated by the recent deep freeze in Texas and Louisiana, where most of the chemicals are produced for foam.”
Between natural disasters, transportation issues, production challenges, and lack of raw supply, the furniture industry deals with one of the worst supply chain disasters it has ever faced. Richard Diamonstein, a managing partner for Paramount Sleep, told Furniture Today, “[The foam shortage] is challenging. I can’t remember a time when consumer demand was so significant and materials were this tough to come by.”
Through adversity, the most beautiful things are created. In this season of challenge, we here at CHD are able to pull from our 40+ years of industry experience and excellent relationships with our vendors and transport companies to innovate and lead our industry into the future. With a whole lot of patience and a little bit of grace, we continue to bring our clients premier access to the most beautiful, high-quality pieces of furniture for their homes. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. If it is worth having, it is worth waiting for. If it is worth attaining, it is worth fighting for. If it is worth experiencing, it is worth putting aside time for.” We know life’s finest things are worth the wait, but we are working hard to bring your story to life through design as quickly as possible. Thank you for taking this journey with us and we will see you on the showroom floor!