• Grocery store shortages are back. Here are some of the reasons why, Bid

    From The Great COVID Syphilis Lie of 202@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jan 16 11:01:33 2022
    XPost: rec.food.marketplace, alt.politics.republicans, sac.politics
    XPost: talk.politics.guns, alt.fan.rush-limbaugh

    No, you're not imagining it. Some grocery store shelves are bare
    again, conjuring bad memories of spring 2020 for many.

    Social media is rife with images of empty supermarket aisles and
    signs explaining the lack of available food and other items. Stores
    such as Aldi have apologized to customers for the shortages.

    The reasons for the dwindling stock are numerous, according to food
    industry analysts, and include some issues that impacted retailers
    at the beginning of the pandemic as well as challenges that have
    cropped up more recently.

    "We're really seeing the perfect storm," Phil Lempert, editor of the
    website SupermarketGuru.com, told NPR.

    Lempert said the Northeast is facing some of the worst shortages
    now, due in part to recent winter storms that snarled transportation
    routes, but that could change with the weather.

    But Nate Rose, the communications director for the California
    Grocers Association, said any comparison to March 2020 is not quite

    "There are some issues with out-of-stocks, but it tends to be a
    situation where if you go to a store on a Tuesday night, maybe
    something's out of stock, but by Wednesday sometime it's back in
    store," Rose told NPR.

    "Everyone's become really reliant on kind of that just-in-time
    supply chain," he added, "and I think what we're seeing is things
    are just behind a little bit right now."

    Some conservatives have begun using the hashtag #BareShelvesBiden to
    blame the current administration for the shortages, even though
    grocery stores experienced serious supply problems under President
    Donald Trump, too.

    Here are some of the reasons driving the current supply shortages at
    your local supermarket:

    The omicron variant
    The highly contagious new COVID-19 variant that's causing record
    infections in the U.S. is undoubtedly one of the biggest stressors
    on the food industry right now.

    Grocery store workers are catching the virus in higher numbers and
    calling out sick, making it tougher for markets to keep shelves
    stocked. The stores themselves are finding it harder to source
    products because of the new strain.

    Vivek Sankaran, CEO of the grocery store chain Albertson's, said in
    an earnings call that the company had been hoping to recover from
    recent supply issues but omicron "put a dent in that."

    "There are more supply challenges, and we would expect more supply
    challenges over the next four to six weeks," Sankaran said on

    It's more than grocery stores, though. There are workers all across
    the food industry supply chain who are getting sick and staying
    home, impacting food production, manufacturing, shipping and

    The food company Conagra, the parent company of brands such as
    Duncan Hines and Healthy Choice, is just one seeing a rise in
    "omicron-driven absenteeism," President and CEO Sean Connolly said
    in an earnings call last week.

    "It's entirely reasonable for all of us to project that the next
    month or so could remain strained within the supply chain as Omicron
    runs its course," Connolly said.

    Labor shortages
    In addition to workers becoming infected with COVID-19, there are
    those who have simply quit.

    Lempert said the pandemic has turned grocery stores into
    "battlefields," with employees required to work in person throughout
    the pandemic, explain food shortages and new public health measures
    to customers, and try to keep themselves safe and healthy in the

    "As a result of that, a lot of people said, 'Hey, I don't need
    this,' and they've left their jobs in the supermarket," Lempert

    A recent survey conducted by the National Grocers Association found
    that many of its member retail and wholesale grocers reported
    operating their stores with 50% of their normal workforce.

    Supermarkets are beginning to offer higher pay, better benefits and
    even tighter security to attract new applicants, Lempert said.

    Trucking and shipping
    Truckers are also in short supply, though there's some dispute about
    how bad the situation really is.

    Trucking companies are offering higher wages to attract workers, but
    employment levels still aren't high enough to meet the demand for
    ground transport.

    In December, the White House announced a plan to bolster the
    trucking industry, including making it easier for drivers to get
    commercial driver's license, or CDLs.

    Severe weather and climate change
    Climate change isn't a new problem, but it's one that's still vexing
    the food industry. Severe weather events are becoming more frequent
    and intense across the world as the planet warms.

    According to Lempert, growers are yielding less corn and soy to feed
    farm animals, which is having a downstream impact on the price and
    availability of meat, eggs and dairy products.

    In Brazil, heavy rains are inundating coffee fields and other crops,
    which is limiting production.

    Severe weather is also making it harder to move food around.

    Recent storms in Washington state prompted the closure of major
    roads and slowed the shipping of food to Alaska, where supermarkets
    told customers the one-two punch of severe weather and shipping
    delays were to blame for barren shelves.


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