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Supply chain problems leave grocery shelves sparse

Shoppers walk past an empty produce section at a Safeway in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Associated Press/Photo by Parker Purifoy

Supply chain problems leave grocery shelves sparse

In an average year, U.S. grocery stores might have 5 percent to 10 percent of items out of stock. But according to Consumer Brands Association President Geoff Freeman, the unavailability rate currently stands around 15 percent. Experts are divided about whether the shortages represent a temporary or a long-term problem. Food producers say that large numbers of staff members have called in sick during the recent omicron coronavirus surge. Other food-dependent sectors, like the U.S. trucking industry, are short of workers in general.

What items are unavailable? Industry leaders say it will take time for businesses to adjust to new buying patterns. Freeman said cereals might be scarce while Midwest factories belonging to companies such as Kellogg’s and General Mills grapple with omicron surges. Amid shortages during the holiday season, Kraft Heinz, the maker of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, offered customers money not to make cheesecake. Enfamil reported Wednesday that production and shipping delays have left major retailers short of baby food and formula. An aluminum shortage has made it difficult to distribute canned goods, and companies said supplies are also tight for processing and packaging meat products.

Dig deeper: Read my report in WORLD Magazine about how food shortages affected a soup kitchen in Pennsylvania.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Harrisburg, Pa.



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Big Jim

This explains why I haven't been able to find Clif Bar Coconut Chocolate Chip flavor in over a month!

news2meBig Jim

To each according to his needs? ;-)
I joke, but I hope people don't begin hoarding again.
That is what caused the shortage the last time.
Good way to go on a diet. No?