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We're Running Out of Blue

Supply chain disruptions have caused trouble for paint manufacturers, which are having a tough time making some shades of blue.

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Photo: Fred Tanneau / AFP (Getty Images)

If you thought the global supply chain disruptions only affected your receipt at the grocery store or your ability to get the newest Apple product, think again. The paint industry is going through an intense supply chain crunch right now, which is bad news if your home improvement or renovation projects require the color blue.

Paint maker AkzoNobel, the largest manufacturer of the product in Europe, told Bloomberg on Wednesday that it was running out of materials to make some shades of blue. CEO Thierry Vanlancker told the outlet that the difficulty was related to a shortage of a certain basic color tint, which is “extremely difficult” to obtain.


“It’s creating complete chaos,” Vanlancker said.

AzkoNobel’s woes don’t stop there, though. The manufacturer is having a harder time getting metal cans for its paint because it can’t get its hands on the tinplate used to make them, Bloomberg reported. This has forced it to ship empty metal cans across the countries where it operates to get its paint out because it can’t make them on-site.


In addition, AzkoNobel has said it can’t fulfill deliveries of external wall paints due to force majeure, which refers to natural or unavoidable catastrophes that prevent companies from fulfilling their obligations. Its explanation: The additive needed to make these paints waterproof is not available.

In a media announcement on the company’s third quarter earnings on Wednesday, Vanlancker said that extraordinary levels of raw materials cost and supply chain disruption had impacted its business. His statement echoed one made by Sherwin-Williams at the end of September, which also pointed out rising costs for materials such as resins and polymers—ingredients in paint—and the steel to make paint cans.

Damage from Hurricane Ida and the Texas winter storm earlier in the year had also affected its suppliers, Sherwin-Williams said.

Meanwhile, the AzkoNobel CEO warned that the crunch plaguing the paint industry wasn’t done yet.


“As we’ve already indicated, the headwinds are likely to be with us going into 2022,” Vanlancker said in a statement.

The supply chain disruption and the increased cost of materials has shot up the price of paint in some markets. Akzo Nobel’s prices have already risen 6% in 2021 and are expected to increase by 5-6% by the end of the year, according to the Financial Times. Sherwin-Williams has also raised prices.