Unless you were a prepper — someone who actively prepares for a catastrophic disaster or emergency — at the beginning of 2020, you probably didn’t have a stockpile of food and supplies stored conveniently at home when the pandemic hit. While no one will argue that it’s not a good feeling when you’re on your last roll of toilet paper, or you need milk and the store shelves are empty, that’s no excuse to hoard when the opportunity presents itself. Instead, when supplies are fully stocked, slowly stockpile the nonperishables you need and consider searching for long-lasting alternatives to the perishable foods you enjoy.
As the economy continues to recover and states began to reopen, Americans can start to see the light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel. But don’t be fooled into a false sense of security when it comes to finding everything on your shopping list. According to Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com, “Things are expected to largely return to normal in 2021, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see shortages this year.”
Thanks largely in part to the insight GOBankingRates gained from Ramhold, here’s the scoop on supply shortages that may happen again this year.
Last updated: March 17, 2021
“When production lines had to be shut down last year, many manufacturers had to reprioritize their products,” said Ramhold of DealNews.com. “In many cases, this meant putting lesser-known or more specialty flavors on the backburner and focusing on the most popular products instead.”
Ramhold also noted that some of the cuts might not be temporary. “Rather than temporarily halting production, some companies have just been discontinuing items at a faster rate due to the setbacks and shortages of the pandemic,” she said.
Aluminum Canned Items
“This includes items like beer and soup, but also select sodas,” Ramhold said. “With an aluminum shortage looming last year, some manufacturers have been unable to keep up with demand, especially on items like soups and sodas. However, even beer is suffering from the aluminum shortage, which means it might be a toss-up on whether you can find your favorite brand at your local store this year.”
Local Craft Brews
Ramhold also said if you prefer to drink local craft brews, you should be prepared for those to be more difficult to find. The reason she says is those small breweries might have less access to aluminum cans than larger corporations. However, Ramhold has an interesting suggestion if you miss your favorite beer: “Instead, consider visiting your local brewery with a growler in hand to support the business if such options are offered.”
Select Fizzy Drinks
“In addition to aluminum shortages, some soda makers are experiencing a shortage of carbon dioxide,” Ramhold said. “As it’s a by-product of ethanol production, and some ethanol plants shut down production last year, that means there may be less of a supply of carbon dioxide to carbonate your favorite fizzy drinks.”
“Additionally, some manufacturers temporarily shelved more niche types of soda, such as Fresca, in order to provide their more beloved mainstream varieties,” Ramhold said. “If you like less mainstream flavors, you probably noticed them as being harder to find last year, and since companies are still trying to catch up to those setbacks, there’s a good chance it’ll be difficult to find your favorites for some time yet.”
Shelf-Stable Food Items
Ramhold said that there could be a shortage of these items, including canned foods, dried pasta, beans and boxes of macaroni and cheese. “Last year, with the pandemic producing such massive uncertainties about supplies, many people weren’t just hoarding toilet paper, but also shelf-stable foods as well,” she said. “While some people might not be hoarding these items anymore, many manufacturers are still trying to catch up from the massive and unexpected demand in 2020.”
Not only can a pandemic cause supply shortages, but extreme weather events can also. In either case, food staples like bread, milk and eggs will go quickly, and sometimes shipments will be severely delayed. For example, the historic winter storm that slammed Texas in February caused food supply chain shortages that surpassed those of COVID-19, according to Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, as reported by CNN.
Just like some canned vegetables, frozen vegetables may also be in short supply this year. More people have been cooking at home, and demand has gone up for these products, which has caused a supply shortage. Some vegetables are only grown in certain seasons, and the resulting supply is distributed according to demand. Because there was more demand than usual and more frozen veggies were sold, producers eventually had to limit distribution so that at least some of the product will continue to be available while more crops are grown, harvested, frozen and packaged.
Cleaning supply manufacturers still haven’t been able to fully recover from the pandemic-fueled demand to keep things ultra-clean, and many of those products will continue to be in short supply. Clorox, which owns 45% of the market share of the billion-dollar disinfectant wipes market, increased its manufacturing efforts last year but still wasn’t able to meet consumer demand. Unfortunately, the company’s product shortage spilled over into 2021.
If history is any indication, a toilet paper shortage could happen again if some areas see a spike in coronavirus cases or another emergency situation occurs. Unfortunately, some people cannot help but panic-buy and hoard in the face of a crisis, which can contribute to a shortage for everyone else.
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