Supply-chain crisis sparks hoarding in parts of the US

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Parts of the US are now battling food shortages as worried Americans have emptied supermarket shelves amid the supply chain crisis threatening the nation’s economy and holiday shopping.

People are stockpiling everything from canned goods to boxed items and even making a run on milk when it’s available in grocery stores, Bloomberg reported.

The surge in demand comes as two of America’s major container ports in California face a massive pandemic-related backlog.

“People are hoarding,” Adnan Durrani, CEO and founder of Saffron Road, a producer of frozen and shelf-stable meals, told Bloomberg.

“What I think you’ll see over the next six months, all prices will go higher.”

Saffron Road is stocking up on more inventory than usual, keeping about four months of supply on hand instead of just one or two months, he said.

Surge in demand for certain grocery items comes as two of America's major container ports in California face a massive pandemic-related backlog.
Surge in demand for certain grocery items comes as two of America’s major container ports in California face a massive pandemic-related backlog.
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
People all over the country are stockpiling food as the supply chain crisis continues to mount.
People all over the country are stockpiling food as the supply chain crisis continues to mount.
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The CEO of Idaho-based grocery chain Albertsons, Vivek Sankara, told the outlet that customers should expect they are going to have “something missing in our stores” on “any given day.”

“I never imagined that we’d be here in October 2021 talking about supply-chain problems, but it’s a reality,” Sankaran said.

In Chicago, Dill Pickle Food Co-Op is reportedly short on certain dry goods because two of its main distributors haven’t sent full orders in recent weeks. 

A shopper is seen in the meat section of a supermarket with near empty shelves due to people hoarding food as goods get delayed entering the US.
A shopper is seen in the meat section of a supermarket with near empty shelves due to people hoarding food as goods get delayed entering the US.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Land O’Lakes, one of the biggest farm cooperatives in the country, told Bloomberg that it’s producing plenty of milk, but that the massive backlog of ships waiting to enter California’s two largest ports has led to problems getting milk to people.

“The challenges in the supply chain continue to be issues such as driver shortages, labor and congestion at the ports,” Land O’Lakes chief supply officer Yone Dewberry told the outlet.

Meanwhile, in Denver, shoppers have reportedly struggled to find milk due to broken parts at the regional supplier’s plant.

Containers at a port in Newark, New Jersey as the supply chain crisis continues to build in severity.
Containers at a port in Newark, New Jersey as the supply chain crisis continues to build in severity.
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Bloomberg also reported there have been snags in the production or distribution of cereals, tortillas and juices that have kept those products off the shelves.

Those issues have left local schools scrambling to get supplies for students’ lunch.

“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 the outlet. “It just continues to pop up. It’s like playing whack-a-mole.”

Prices in grocery stores are now up 4.5 percent compared with a year ago, according to the most recent Consumer Price Index.
Prices in grocery stores are now up 4.5 percent compared with a year ago, according to the most recent Consumer Price Index.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

However, the shortages are less severe and sweeping than they were at the start of the pandemic, Bloomberg noted.

“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.

“Although the food industry was able to somewhat rebound, the sustained nature of the pandemic, combined with the slow pace of vaccination globally and the recent surge caused by the delta variant, have resurfaced the problem.” 

Parts of the US are now battling food shortages as worried Americans have emptied supermarket shelves amid the supply chain crisis
Parts of the US are now battling food shortages as worried Americans have emptied supermarket shelves amid the supply chain crisis.
Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Other industry-specific challenges include a previously reported poultry shortage that’s hit grocery stores and fast-food chains. That shortage has been exacerbated by surging demand, labor shortages and supply-chain challenges, as well as a recent crop of underperforming roosters.

A&W Restaurants earlier this year canceled a marketing plan for chicken tenders when it couldn’t get enough supply from its vendors.

“Rather than running short, we replaced the promotion with something we could get,” CEO Kevin Bazner said, according to Bloomberg, adding that they instead promoted chili-cheese fries.

The chain is still only getting about 80 percent of what it orders, he reportedly added.

Processors of other meats are also struggling for various reasons, including a shortage of Styrofoam trays that’s holding back shipping, Bloomberg noted.

Retailers and producers all along the supply chain are hiking prices to pass higher costs along to consumers.

Prices in grocery stores are now up 4.5 percent compared with a year ago, according to the most recent Consumer Price Index, released last week, and there’s no sign of price increases slowing.

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