2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 

A recent online job post for a ‘Supply Chain Resilience Manager’ for a company in Switzerland ticked all the obvious boxes for someone responsible for creating and implementing strategies to make a supply chain ‘deliver as promised’.

But if the challenges facing supply chains in 2024 are anything to go by, the requirements for future resilience recruits might sound more like a university prospectus than a conventional ‘job ad’.

That’s because, based on world events, future supply chain resilience job specifications might easily call for candidates who also qualify as a historian and political scientist, a meteorologist, a consumer expert, a cybersecurity geek, a sustainability guru, a world health professional, recruitment specialist, and a modal shift messiah…. and probably more. 

The world today is uncertain. It’s riskier than ever before … and the challenges just keep on coming. The Covid pandemic was tragic and life-changing and even as it lingers and continues to cost lives across the globe, we still, individually, have the knowledge and tools to manage its impact. The same cannot easily be said of today’s other regional and world events.

For a generation of security and supply chain resilience professionals, has a new year ever been so daunting? 

War still rages in Ukraine and is heading towards an unwanted two-year anniversary. Israel and Hamas are at war in the Middle East, while Houthi rebels are continuing to attack cargo ships and tankers in the Red Sea while themselves coming under fire from western allies determined to defeat terrorism and keep world trade moving through this vital channel.

The ‘boiling pot’ of the Red Sea and its impact on supply chains is one of the easier global events to commercially quantify. Data shows that 12% of global trade passes through the Red Sea annually. To give this a value, try more than US$1 trillion a year (approx.>€920 billion). To avoid the conflict, hundreds of giant container ships are reportedly ‘going the long way round’ the continent of Africa instead of nipping through the Red Sea and through the Suez Canal carrying goods from Asia to Europe. This is a logistical nightmare in terms of time and cost. The route round the Cape of Good Hope adds some 6,500km in distance, 10-12 days in sailing time, and an estimated $1 million (>€918,000) in extra fuel. 

Some shippers with a higher margin in their products than others are opting for the predictability of airfreight, but the added cost has to be borne by someone and, of course, the buck stops with consumers – or as they are now often referred to as, ‘already financially-stretched consumers’. The good news is that in more developed countries, average wages are going up. The bad news is that they can’t keep pace with rising interest rates and inflation. 

If you think it’s time for some fresh political thinking to sort everything out, you may well get your wish in 2024 – but, be careful what you wish for.   

2024 is the biggest election year in history. 2 billion voters are going to the polls in national elections globally. Taiwan has also voted for the status quo, giving its government a third term of office, but still to come this year are ballots in countries including the United States, India, Russia, Iran, Ukraine, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey, and Australia. Add in 16 countries in Africa, while in Europe, countries holding elections include the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, and Romania, and – in June – we’ll see the next European Parliament election.

One national newspaper summed it up. 2024’s global elections, it said, will decide ‘who controls and directs the 21stcentury world.’

So, how’s that supply chain resilience plan going for 2024 and beyond?  

Well, before you think you’ve got everything covered, don’t forget what else is on the list. Mother nature may turn out to be your fiercest opponent. 2024 has already seen volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, flooding, and plenty of other extreme weather effects that are largely impossible to plan for, especially in terms of time to respond. Of course, our increasingly unpredictable planet is also why the words ‘sustainability’ and ‘ESG’ are such a hot topic in the business world, and they’re getting closer and closer to the top of logistics contracts.

What else? Well, you may not have enough people for all the roles you need to fill. And, even if you do, you can probably still expect some disruption in your end-to-end supply chain from suppliers that can’t find the candidates they need for often lower paid jobs. Oh, and remember cybercrime? It may have slipped down the list given everything else that’s going on, but it’s still estimated to cost companies $9.7 trillion in 2024 (approx. €8.9trn). So, it should probably be on your focus list, too.

And, then there’s cargo crime. Don’t forget that one. Only 9% of the more than 72,000 cargo thefts reported to TAPA EMEA in the past 3 years gave a value but this still added up to >€906 billion or an average for each major theft (of €100K or more) of €1,036,494. With Organised Crime Groups and other criminals targeting supply chains in over 90 countries in this time period and losses with a value exceeding €827,000 in every 24 hours for three years, cargo crime obviously has a big place on that list as well.    

Vigilant reached out to three of the security and supply chain specialists who took part in the Association’s last annual conference for their insights into the outlook for 2024… 


Vice President Security 

BASF Group

How unprecedented is the start to this new year?

After an already challenging 2022, 2023 turned out to be an even more collective stress test, especially for security organisations. The world is in turmoil, changing the economic order as well as the global security picture and policy. In this context, the German Federal Government adopted its first National Security Strategy in mid-2023 which shall serve as a compass for integrated security efforts and new security legislation. Viewed in retrospect, the shift in economic, geopolitical, and security landscapes is a trend which has been exponential and unstoppable over the last two decades. It is, therefore, described as a slowly increasing sequence of global crisis situations. 

Concurrent shocks, deeply interconnected risks, and eroding resilience are giving rise to the risk of poly crises. The intensity and multidimensionality of such crises will increase in the future, and therefore this trend is set to continue in 2024. The new year will likely see a high-water mark in crisis complexity and disruptiveness. No one can predict what comes next in a world characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). But what we already know with recent crises is how vulnerable our own and our global immune system is. Unfortunately, weakened immune systems are known to be particularly vulnerable, even to seemingly marginal events. It is not only important for us as individuals to develop resilience strategies, these same strategies must also be developed by economic enterprises. 

What do you see as the greatest threats to supply chain resilience in the next 12 months?

Global supply chains are still recovering from many hurdles brought about by Covid-19. At the same time, geopolitical conflicts including the so-called war at sea, labour shortages, ocean freight bottlenecks and global port congestions pose additional challenges to multimodal transport. A further challenge is posed by the rise of organised and economic crime in all its facets. Crime-as-a-Service (CaaS) did not only change the cybersecurity landscape. Rather, CaaS has evolved into a sophisticated and on-demand business model in many areas of crime. This applies, for example, to commercial or gang theft of high value goods, such as precious and base metals as well as agricultural products. 

Mushrooming new crime phenomena and modi operandi have become a widespread problem with significant financial damages for commercial enterprises and their supply chains. Even more alarming is the increasing use of violence and intimidation applied by perpetrators to reach their criminal goals. In this regard, security organisations as a partner in resilience and crime fighting efforts, have undergone a profound shift, moving from the more traditional ‘guards, guns, and gates’ model to encompass security threats which go beyond the purely physical, overlapping with other disciplines. Security must no longer be viewed as a standalone function but be recognised as having the ability to work with and enhance other areas of the business. 

What new threats might emerge in 2024?

Growing geopolitical tensions or state of war do not only pose new risks to commercial enterprises, their business segments and supply chains but also to their business travelers and delegates. Over the last two years, the number of major global incidents has tripled, making it now harder than ever for companies to keep their employees and assets safe. This conversely underlines the importance of duty of care on behalf of employers who are morally and legally obligated to preserve the health, safety, and security of employees.

A second effect, resulting from geopolitical rifts, is hybrid warfare. Both state and non-state actors use activities to target political institutions and corporate enterprises, influence public opinion and undermine national and global security. Hybrid methods of warfare, such as propaganda/disinformation, cyberattacks and espionage have long been used to destabilize democratic order. Recent events like the so called “Vulkan Files” scandal as well as large-scale acts of sabotage have shown only too clearly that Western companies are subject of particular attention from hybrid activities. 

Furthermore, in an environment of growing economic uncertainty, it is highly likely that some individuals become incentivised to act on criminal impulses to alleviate their financial situation. As a result, especially opportunistic crime has accelerated, requiring preventive approaches and heightened security awareness. This is also true for radicalization of parts of the political left or right, growing extremist tendencies or lateral thinker and anti-democratic movements.


Head of Group Resilience, Quality &

Audit CAS/Security, Gebrüder Weis

How unprecedented is the start to this new year?

We dragged many issues over from 2023, the wars, the de facto closure of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, labor strikes e.g., in Germany. And unfortunately, new ones were added quickly, like the earthquake in Japan. And January is not over yet. The good news is that all of us have learned a lot since 2020, and many organisations now have a very mature resilience team in place, which also has experience in dealing with crises.

From a business perspective, what are your thoughts about the challenges for the year ahead?

I think we’ll have to manage several crises affecting our supply chains. The wars are still ongoing, there is no solution for the Red Sea crisis in sight. Furthermore, this year is a global election year; more than 50 countries (and 2 billion people) will be voting. We know from the past that misinformation, especially during times of elections, spreads. With the strong rise of AI, this issue will not decrease. This, plus the current economic situation and inflation, could lead to strikes and riots.

What do you see as the greatest threats to supply chain resilience over the next 12 months?

Supply Chain Resilience is a complex thing. We have to manage systems (supply chains), indicating that we have to keep many things in balance. Starting from a good approach to fighting labour shortages, as well as natural disasters. One particular challenge for all fellow Resilience Managers will be countering all these issues with a probably tight budget. This will require a laser-focused approach to detect the most critical or fragile parts of our supply chains.

What other threats might emerge in 2024?

The top threats are still extreme weather, political polarization, cost of living crisis, and cyberattacks, followed by AI-generated misinformation and disinformation. I mentioned the global election year; this could cause severe issues. But this is not only an issue for our society at large or governments but also on a company level. 

What are your prime focus areas?  

There are things which must work; we have to do our homework very well. We have good data on cargo crime, thanks to TAPA, and great standards to tackle that. But with this polycrisis situation, we need to find new ways to stay resilient. Our main focus is on everything which makes the organisation at large more resilient, like trained employees, redundancies where needed, as well as contingency plans. We have to stay smart and innovative in analysis and implementation.


Head of Safety, Risk Prevention & DPO 


How do you see the supply chain resilience outlook for 2024? 

We look at 2024 with some concerns, as far as 2023 ended without the resolution of most of the current threats, disruptions and complications that affect our business in general and the supply chain, specifically. 

The current wars, the continuous growth of organised crime in numbers and geographical expansion, the congestions in the different means of transport, the price inflation, and the general increase of losses and robberies, even in protected areas, are some of them.

We are focusing on reinforcing all security measures and procedures, together with our supply chain partners with the objective of fulfilling our duties and promises with our clients, individuals, or sales partners. In a world where more and more daily matters are happening in the digital environment, the main supply chain operations remain physical, so, we need to maintain and find new ways to secure our deliveries, without forgetting the increase in cybercrime that every year affects more our general business and, directly or indirectly, our supply chain operations.


Managing Director Loss Prevention

TT Club

The outlook for 2024

2023 claims data suggests several trends where cargo theft incidents are concerned, linked to a variety of underlying causes. What is clear is that we appear to be living through a perfect storm in many respects which is giving rise to a host of related risks through the global supply chain. 

Whether caused by the economic situation, spikes in commodity prices or simple market supply and demand imbalances, cargo thefts continue to be a costly and frequent occurrence. Equally, readily available security related technology is also being used against supply chain operators, with tracking devices placed by insiders on target vehicles. Staying one step ahead of the criminal fraternity has arguably never been more of a challenge.

In the context of security and resilience, 2024 will undoubtedly pose supply chain stakeholders a number of challenges, none more so, however, than the fraudulent strategies being adopted by criminals to access cargo. From forged documents and identities through to fake carriers and freight forwarders, the criminal world has seemingly perfected infiltrating the supply chain. Coupled with additional data and insider information, their ability to target desirable cargo, all while in the comfort of their home or office at the lowest possible risk of detection, is alarming.These uncertainties will necessitate continuous investment in security risk assessment and target hardening, it will mean continually evaluating what constitutes theft attractive cargo. Education becomes vital, raising awareness of the evolving risk landscape and developing robust due diligence procedures, particularly at the point of cargo collection and subcontracting.  For global operators, understanding how the strategies employed by criminals shift regionally will also be of importance.

2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience? 
2024 – Has There Ever Been a More Challenging Year for Supply Chain Resilience?