It’s no secret that prices at the grocery store have shot up significantly this year. But that’s not the only problem consumers will have to face this fall and beyond. According to numerous reports, when Americans go food shopping this holiday season, there’s a good chance that many of their favorite products won’t be on the shelves.
Product Shortages and Supply Chain Issues are causing empty shelves
The pandemic continues its destruction of the market. the Biden administration has already warnedThese problems will not end until 2022. Water and paper supplies are already in short supply due to supply chain problems. Stockists also have had difficulty keeping wine and liquor in stock. But this is only the beginning.
Making predictions about the upcoming shortages isn’t an easy task, says Publix director of communications Maria Brous, because the situation is constantly changing.
“The industry continues to face shortages during the pandemic, and those shortages on product and packaging may vary week to week,” Brous told TODAY. “In some instances, suppliers have discontinued multiple varieties to concentrate on their best selling items to meet demand.”
Packaging is also an issue
Rodney Holcomb from Oklahoma State University says that consumers should be prepared for a shortage in canned foods. But not because there’s a problem with the food. Instead, it’s all about the packaging.
Holcomb explained that aluminum availability is a major concern. It could make it difficult to find canned and ready-to-eat products on store shelves.
Jayson Lusk, Purdue University’s head of the Department of Agricultural Economics, agrees that the problem of aluminum shortages is a serious one. He told TODAYIt could also affect canned goods such as soups and vegetables. It could also result in shortages of aluminum-packaged beverages like soda.
However, manufacturers have plastic and glass packaging options. So, it’s possible to work around the aluminum issue. This might be a cheaper option, since aluminum prices have risen.
“Aluminum prices have increased considerably over the course of this year, increasing over 40% since January and almost 9% in the past month,” Lusk said.
Plan Ahead for Meat And Poultry
When it comes to your Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas ham—or any other meat and poultry products this holiday season—that’s where you should definitely plan ahead.
“Meat and poultry products will still be tight supplies this fall, not necessarily because of a shortage of livestock or poultry but because COVID has processing plants working at less than full capacity,” Holcomb said.
Stew Leonard, Jr.—the CEO of the northeast supermarket chain Stew Leonard’s—says that fresh products have been the hardest to source in recent months.
“We’re seeing a shortage with fresh products, like turkeys for Thanksgiving, fresh fish, and center cut steaks like ribeye and porterhouse,” he explained to TODAY. “We’re having trouble getting New Zealand lamb as there are ships waiting to be unloaded at the dock because there aren’t enough dock workers.”
It is possible to avoid empty shelves by ordering products ahead of time in order to avoid disappointment. Leonard says his stores are fully stocked with items like paper products, kids’ snacks, and pasta. And that won’t change in the coming months.
Panic is not necessary
Lusk advises not to panic as the supply chain attempts to make its way. There’s no need to hoard products or stockpile meat out of fear. Instead, consumers should plan ahead to find the best prices and product choices.
“I don’t think there is reason for being alarmist here,” he said.
Lusk pointed out that people could overreact to fear and lead to more shortages. Just like the 2020 toilet paper crisis.