One of the most notable impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has made on our lives has been the surprising supply chain issues and food shortages that plagued the world as entire industries shut down and once smoothly-running industries hit snags due to the deadly virus. In the early days of the pandemic, the shortages were largely because people were stocking up in fear — stores struggled to stock shelves with antibacterial wipes, toilet paper, meat, dry goods, and more. But as time went on, the problem was compounded by supply chain issues resulting in some foods and basic goods being really hard to find or being more expensive than usual. And it sounds like some of those problems are back.
According to TODAY, as we get back into the swing of the school season and with the holidays just around the corner, we can expect some supply and food shortages to come back. It’s already started in some areas with parents sharing on social media that they’ve struggled to find some of their kids’ favorite treats. And the food shortages are hard to predict. Which means it’s hard to plan for.
“The industry continues to face shortages during the pandemic, and those shortages on product and packaging may vary week to week,” Maria Brous, director of communications for Publix, told TODAY. “In some instances, suppliers have discontinued multiple varieties to concentrate on their best selling items to meet demand.”
Lunchables, a favorite for kids in schools, have been reportedly hard to find on the store shelves. The reason is a mix of an increase in demand plus supply chain issues. “Lunchables are flying off the shelves due to the fact that after 18 months at home, parents just can’t make any more meals (or argue with their kids about proper nutrition),” TODAY suggests. Either way, they’re hard to find.
Meat is another item that’s been hit with shortages and will likely continue for some time still. “Meat and poultry products will still be tight supplies this fall, not necessarily because of a shortage of livestock or poultry but because COVID has processing plants working at less than full capacity,” Rodney Holcomb, a food economist at Oklahoma State University, said.
Other items that shortages may impact include alcohol like wine, and canned food due to sourcing aluminum for the cans. People on social media have also reported struggles to track down cream cheese, specific brands of maxi pads, and Diet Pepsi.
Are food shortages something we need to be worried about though?
Not necessarily, and stockpiling isn’t necessary. Stockpiling — and freaking out — might lead to more issues, Jayson L. Lusk, a professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, said. “I don’t think there is reason for being alarmist here,” he shared, adding that overreacting might lead to hoarding issues, which none of us need.
In the meantime, perhaps we can see any shortages as a positive to try new foods. Or another reason to do our part to help keep COVID-19 infections at bay. We’re all ready for life to return to more normalcy — and we’d prefer to not do that without the snacks that keep our kids happy.