U.S. food shortages worsen as pandemics deplete supplies

As the United States continues to experience supply chain disruptions in Washington, DC on January 9, 2022, Giant Food grocery stores appear to have almost empty produce shelves. REUTERS / Sarah Silbiger

January 14, 2022

By Siddharth Cavale and Christopher Walljasper

(Reuters) – High demand for groceries, soaring fares and labor shortages related to Omicron create new backlogs for processed and perishable food companies, emptying supermarket shelves at major retailers across the United States. It has become.

Perishables producers across the West Coast pay nearly three times the pre-pandemic trucking charges to ship lettuce, berries, etc. before they spoil. Shay Myers, CEO of Owyhee Produce, which grows onions, watermelons and asparagus along the border between Idaho and Oregon, said he has postponed shipping of onions to retailers until the freight drops.

According to Myers, the transportation turmoil over the past three weeks has caused fruit and vegetable producer fares to rise in addition to pandemic prices that have already risen due to a shortage of truck drivers and a recent highway blockage storm. It is said that it has doubled. “We usually ship from the east coast to the west coast. We used to ship for about $ 7,000,” he said. “Today is between $ 18,000 and $ 22,000.”

Sean Connolly, CEO of Birds Eye’s frozen vegetable maker Conagra Brands, told investors last week that Omicron-related absences could limit supply from US factories at least next month.

Earlier this week, Albertsons CEO Vivek Sankaran hopes supermarket chains will face more supply chain challenges in the next four to six weeks as Omicron hits efforts to close supply chain gaps. I said that I am doing it.

Social media shoppers complained that some Wal-Mart stores had empty pasta and meat aisles. The Meyer store in Indianapolis was wiped out with chicken. Publix in Palm Beach, Florida lacked tissue paper and household hygiene products, while Costco has reinstated toilet paper purchase restrictions at some stores in Washington.

Katie Dennis, vice president of communications and research at the Consumer Brands Association, accused the labor shortage of shortages and said the situation was not expected to ease for at least the next few weeks. ..

She said the FMCG industry is short of about 120,000 workers, adding only 1,500 jobs last month.

Currently, US retailers are typically 7-10% out of stock of food, beverages, household cleaning, and personal hygiene products, compared to about 12%.

According to the Consumer Brands Association, the problem is even worse for foods with out-of-stock levels reaching 15%.

Spartan Nash, a US grocery distributor, said last week that it was difficult to get supply from food manufacturers, especially processed products such as cereals and soups.

Consumers continue to stock up on groceries as they go to groceries at home to curb the spread of Omicron variants. According to Dennis, demand over the past five months has been equal to or greater than demand in March 2020, when the pandemic began. Similar problems are seen in other parts of the world.

In Australia, grocery chain operator Woolworths Group said last week that more than 20% of distribution center employees are absent from work due to COVID-19. At least 10% of staff in stores are inactive due to the virus.

On Thursday, the company reinstated the two-pack per-customer limit for toilet paper and painkillers across the country, both in-store and online, to address staff shortages.

In the United States, recent snow and ice storms that have blocked traffic for hours along the east coast have also blocked food delivery to grocery stores and distribution hubs. These delays spread nationwide, delaying the shipment of fruits and vegetables with limited shelf life.

Producers with perishable produce are forced to pay high freight charges to attract a limited truck supply, while producers like Myers wait for the backlog to ease. I have chosen that.

“Canned, soda, chips-they weren’t willing to pay double or triple fares and didn’t get worse in four days, so I sat down,” he said.

(Additional report by Praveen Paramasivam; edited by Vanessa O’Connell and Diane Craft)

U.S. food shortages worsen as pandemics deplete supplies

Source link U.S. food shortages worsen as pandemics deplete supplies

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