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Massive winter storm could keep grocery store shelves empty even longer

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Massive winter storm could keep grocery store shelves empty even longer

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Severe weather events are known to trigger consumers to stockpile groceries, said Miguel Gomez, Robert G. Tobin Professor of Food Marketing at Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics.

“These winter storms will unfortunately add delays to an already strained supply chain,” he said. “I think shoppers will see out-of-stocks in stores for some groceries.”

The timing of the storms couldn’t be worse for supermarkets. In recent days, consumers across the country have unleashed their frustration on social media, posting photos on Twitter of bare shelves at Trader Joe’s, Giant Foods and Publix stores, among others.

Miah Daughtery posted a photo to Twitter on Jan. 9 from a Trader Joe’s store in Bethesda, Maryland, showing several shelves that have been cleared of produce and other food items. “It was 4 p.m. This store is always stocked at that time,” she said.

Her daughter was so surprised that she approached an employee to ask if the store was closing. He was told grocery supplies were low because the delivery truck was delayed by the weather storm that swept across the east coast last weekend. “There wasn’t a single egg in the store, no fresh fruit, no garlic. Basically, daily staples were in short supply,” Daughtery said.

On Thursday, Daughtery went to a nearby Giant Food store. “There was no ground chicken, and the dairy products were almost wiped out,” she said.

Frozen products, meats, cookies, fruit juice paper products in short supply

According to the latest data from market research firm IRI, supermarket chains nationwide are currently facing tighter supplies of all kinds of food and household products.

According to IRI, grocery stores at best are 90% to 95% stocked across all product categories. Consumers begin to notice voids on store shelves when inventory drops below 90%.

IRI data for the week ended Jan. 9 showed supplies of several food and beverage categories were below this threshold: frozen and chilled meats were below 90%, frozen baked goods were at 69% and fruit, cookies and breakfast items were all below 90%. %. Chilled beverages were at 88% and chilled dough saw the biggest drop at 60%.

Elsewhere, sports and energy drinks, juices, pet care and paper products were also below 90% of supply for the week.

As the supply of produce dries up, buyers have to absorb higher food prices.

Teresa Hinke was at a Wegmans store in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, earlier this week and said she was frustrated with supply chain issues causing empty shelves and soaring food prices.

“I stopped in Wegmans and was shocked,” she said. Hinke bought some chicken but couldn’t get the fresh seafood she was hoping to buy. “The flank steak was over $25 and the scallops $32.99 a pound,” she said, adding that a nearby ShopRite store was better stocked.

Be flexible

The onslaught of severe weather events, even in a typical year, tends to disrupt the grocery supply chain.

“It’s usually short-lived and then we move on,” said Doug Baker, vice president of industry relations at FMI, the Food Industry Association, an industry trade group.

But, due to Omicron and high absenteeism in the food industry, winter weather setbacks make supply chain operations more complex, Baker said.

Specifically, it predicts that consumers in affected areas ahead of approaching storms will stock up. “It’s human nature to react to what we see and hear. It will happen,” Baker said.

Massive winter storm could keep grocery store shelves empty even longer

 |  Today Headlines

Her tip: Given limited supplies at grocery stores, shoppers should try to be flexible.

“If your favorite brand isn’t on the shelf, find a substitute,” Baker said. “Resist hoarding. If you take a little more than you need, it can make the situation worse.”

Daughtery said she doesn’t stock groceries and will try to be creative with the groceries she already has at home.

“When the pandemic started, I kept a running supply of basics at home,” she said. “Worst-case scenario is I can still bake a cake and eat it if I run out in the next few days.”

She plans to visit her local farmers’ markets soon to buy some fresh produce she couldn’t find at Trader Joe’s.

“I’m blessed, but I watch over my elderly neighbors who don’t have access to groceries or have plenty of groceries,” Daughtery said.

Massive winter storm could keep grocery store shelves empty even longer

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