It’s Supply Chain ‘Whack-a-Mole’ as Wide Range of Common Foods Face Shortage — Should You Stock Up?

Woman worried about food shortage, post pandemic concept stock photo
Leonardo Moreno / iStock.com

More than a year and a half into the “new normal,” restaurants and grocery stores are still struggling with shortages and delays when it comes to the supply of basic goods. While there’s plenty of food to go around, there isn’t always enough power behind processing and transportation requirements to keep up with rising demand, Bloomberg reported.

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“Any given day, you’re going to have something missing in our stores, and it’s across categories,” Vivek Sankaran, chief executive officer of Albertsons, explained.

U.S. schools are also experiencing disruptions in shipments of milk, cereal, tortillas and juice. “We’ve been struggling with supply-chain issues with different items since school started,” Theresa Hafner, the executive director of food services at Denver Public Schools, told Bloomberg. “It just continues to pop up. It’s like playing whack-a-mole.”

Dill Pickle Food Co-Op in Chicago has also run out of certain dry goods as two main distributors haven’t been sending full orders in recent weeks. On-shelf availability at supermarkets appears to be trending downward, too, as it decreased from 95.2% to 94.6% between August and September, according to data from NielsenIQ via Bloomberg.

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Related: As Anxiety at the Grocery Store Mounts, Over Half of US Shoppers Demand Supply Chain Transparency

“Early in the pandemic, panic buying was the cause of many of the out-of-stock situations that grocers experienced,” general manager I’Talia McCarthy said in an email to store owners this month, according to Bloomberg.

Data from Inmar Intelligence suggests that the panic buying mindset seen earlier last year is once again driving people to load up their carts, Grocery Dive reported. “There’s probably a security blanket type feeling of knowing that if I go to my pantry, I have extra rolls of toilet paper, I have hand sanitizer, I have canned foods or things along those lines,” said Rob Weisberg, senior vice president of e-commerce and technology services for Inmar.

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However, rather than running short, food suppliers are preparing by stocking up on inventory items and focusing on top-selling products, CNN noted. While shoppers may not be able to find some of their favorite products, grocers say that there are still plenty of options.

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Last updated: October 20, 2021

About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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