Why are there grocery store shortages?

THE COVID-19 pandemic resulted in panic buying, leaving grocery store shelves bare, but now a new shortage is affecting buyers.

Prices across the US are rising as production shortages, droughts, and delays ravage the globe, affecting distribution.


Grocery store shelves are emptying quickly as supply chains face delaysCredit: Alamy

Why are there grocery store shortages?

The backlog in production stems from shortages in supply chains from power outages, shortages of employees to take up truck driver and service worker positions, and Covid-19 infections and restrictions.

More people are making the decision to eat at home, rather than go out for a meal, contributing to further increased shortages.

Outside influences such as the drought in Brazil is causing a reduced coffee bean crop this year, making it increasingly difficult for the US to receive their supply of coffee.

“Record-level congestion at the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach that has spread to the East Coast…” Tinglong Dai, a business professor at Johns Hopkins University told USA TODAY.

The port of Los Angeles is facing historic levels of congestion


The port of Los Angeles is facing historic levels of congestionCredit: AFP

What does the backlog of ships on the West Coast have to do with the shortages?

Dozens of shipping vessels are waiting off the port of Los Angeles and the Long Beach port to dock and unload their supplies. The two ports bring in 40 percent of goods to the US.

The port of Los Angeles is facing record-breaking numbers, having only increased since shortly after the start of the pandemic in mid-2020.

The majority of goods shipped from Asia go directly to the West Coast of the US before being dispersed across the country, but the adverse conditions are hindering supply chains’ efforts.

What products can you expect shortages for?

Product shortages are causing a rise in prices, and consumers will see a drop in products including:

  • Carbonated Drinks
  • Chicken
  • Coffee
  • Diapers
  • Frozen Meals
  • McCormick Gourmet spices
  • Toilet Paper

Is there a predicted timeline for grocery stores to be back in stock?

There currently isn’t a timeline for shelves to be fully stocked, but The White House issued a statement on Wednesday they will try to ease the shortages on the West Coast by keeping ports open 24/7.

In the announcement, President Joe Biden said, “Today’s announcement has the potential to be a game-changer,” adding, “The goods won’t move by themselves.”

If the plan moves forward, the port of Los Angeles and Long Beach will have round-the-clock support. The three largest carriers of goods, Walmart, FedEx, and UPS are taking steps toward 24/7 operations as well.

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