Trade Wars, Pandemic Shortages, Containers Overboard

DENVER, May 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ —┬áThe Covid-19 Pandemic affected U.S. businesses in widely different ways. While restaurant and travel industries were negatively impacted, businesses in the ecommerce or outdoor cooking categories saw significant sales increases. Sales of grills and smokers during the pandemic increased 39% compared to the same period the year previous year, according to a new report from The NPD Group, a U.S. retail tracking service.

One company that benefited from the growth of both ecommerce and outdoor cooking is BBQ Dragon, a grilling accessories manufacturer whose sales are 80% online, at retailer sites like Target, Home Depot, and Lowes. But BBQ Dragon president George Prior reports that the increase in sales came with a variety of other problems that the company struggled to surmount.

“Our suppliers in China closed their factories for several months in most cases,” says Prior. “So just when we were selling like crazy and needed to order more inventory, the factories warned us that they were months behind. As a result, we were out of stock on many items for half the year last year.”

Prior says that the inventory delays were only a part of the pandemic-related problems that BBQ Dragon faced in the past 12 months, including:

  • Manufacturing delays in China caused first by factory shutdowns early in 2020, and second by a huge increase in orders many Chinese factories received as a result of increased ecommerce purchasing by U.S. consumers shopping from home.
  • Increased delays in shipping times and shipping expenses for containers coming from China. Prior reports that containers that normally cost $5000 to ship and arrived in 4 weeks, now cost $14,000 and arrived in 3 months.
  • Containers lost overboard from container ships. Bloomberg News reported that containers were being lost overboard at the highest rate in 7 years, with over 2000 containers lost at sea in 2020 alone.
  • Continuing high “Trump Tariffs” from the trade war with China. BBQ Dragon pays a 25% “Trump Tariff” on many of their items, which directly impacts their profitability.

Prior describes their own lost container issue: “We had a container on the ship ‘One Apus’ which lost like 1200 containers in November. The ship was rerouted to a Japanese port to sort out the mess,” says Prior. “They have confirmed that ours was not lost overboard, but we still have no word on when or if we will ever receive it.”

The bottom line for BBQ Dragon was dramatically increased costs. But Prior says they focused on the positive, which was increased brand visibility: “We saw it as an opportunity to add new products.”

BBQ Dragon added more than 25 new products to their catalog over the past 12 months. “It’s risky,” says Prior. “At a chaotic time when a lot of companies were probably financially conservative, we decided to expand. We’ll see how that works out, but I think it fits our company slogan: ‘BBQ Bold.'”

BBQ Dragon products are available at and online at major retailers like Target, Home Depot, and Lowes.

BBQ Dragon is a popular grill accessories brand with 50 innovative products in their catalog. The creators of the BBQ Dragon Fan and the 2-minute charcoal Chimney of Insanity, their mission is to create innovative products that inspire customers to excel at BBQ and at life. They believe that good tools inspire good BBQ, and good BBQ inspires good living.

Contact: George Prior
Archipelago Group