The news is filled with stories about shortages at supermarkets, and apparently the Northeast is seeing the worst of it, due in part to bad weather. Here are the reasons cited by industry experts for the supply shortages at grocery stores.
Omicron: Scores of grocery store workers are catching the virus and calling out sick, so there are less people available to stock shelves. In addition, stores are having difficulty sourcing products for the very same reason. In fact, there are employees all across the food industry supply chain who are catching the virus and staying home, impacting food production, manufacturing and distribution.
Labor Shortages: Supermarket jobs are tough to begin with, so with the added stress of Covid many workers have simply quit. A recent survey by the National Grocers Association found that many food retailers are operating their stores with half of their normal workforce.
Trucking and Shipping: Even with trucking companies offering higher wages than before, employment levels still are not high enough to meet the demand for ground transport.
Weather: Severe weather is becoming more frequent as the planet warms. According to Phil Lempert, who runs SupermarketGuru.com, growers are yielding less corn and soy to feed farm animals, which is having a negative impact on the price and availability of meat, eggs and dairy products. And severe weather is making it harder to transport food.
Albertson’s CEO Vivek Sankaran said recently that “we expect more supply challenges over the next four to six weeks.”
And Sean Connolly, President and CEO of Conagra, the parent company of brands like Duncan Hines and Healthy Choice, believes “it’s entirely reasonable for all of us to project the next month or so could remain strained within the supply chain as Omicron runs its course.”