10 Items You Might Not Find in Your Grocery Store (And Why)
It looks like food shortages have continued into 2022. This is what might be causing the issue.
After some signs of a slow and cautious return to pre-pandemic normalcy last year, the beginning of 2022 is looking remarkably like fall 2020—and that means supply issues at grocery stores. This time the shortages are scattered throughout the store, but shoppers hoping to get their hands on specific products may find it’s not that easy right now.
“It’s spotty, it’s not a widespread situation,” says Katie Denis, vice president of research for the Consumer Brands Association, which represents the consumer packaged goods industry, including companies like General Mills and Kellogg. “It’s not like at the beginning of the pandemic when people went out and cleared shelves to stockpile and panicked.”
Still, there are specific aisles feeling the strain most strongly right now. Here are some products to look for during your next grocery run.
What Are Stores Running Short On?
You may see less of this fruit (yes, avocado is a fruit) on shelves soon. The American government recently suspended imports of Mexican avocados after a U.S plant safety inspector based in Mexico received a threat. U.S inspectors are posted in Mexico to check whether Mexican avocados can be safely exported to the United States, and without their presence, imports may be on hold.
2. Paper Goods
This is an item that we’ve seen at the top of shortage lists for the last two years—toilet paper. Marketplace reports that we should expect to see continued shortages of TP, along with paper towels and other paper goods, as paper mills struggle to keep up with demand and supply chain issues abound.
3. Canned Goods
With people stocking up on canned goods in 2020 and 2021, manufacturers continue to face an aluminum shortage. The shortage has continued through the pandemic, and a reduced supply of products like tomato paste, canned vegetables and soda is likely to stay the norm.
4. Eggs and Meat
Last spring, news of a chicken shortage resulted in fast-food chains cutting back on chicken items. The shortage then moved over to grocery stores in the fall. According to the NY Post, grocery chain CEO John Catsimatidis warned that continuing supply chain issues could affect the supply of meat and eggs across the country, with parts of the US already seeing prices on eggs, poultry and beef go up thanks to high demand. It might be time to switch to vegetarian dinners (sans the eggs) for a while to combat this food shortage.
5. Pet Food
The continuing shortage of aluminum and shipping issues have led to shortages in dog and cat food across the country, with several local papers reporting bare shelves at the pet stores. According to Fox Business, even big retailers like Target and Amazon are facing shortages of pet food, leaving many pet owners scrambling for their furry friends’ staple food and treats.
With school and work back in full swing in many places, this popular lunch flew off the shelves last year. Kraft announced in 2020 it would keep Lunchables on shelves despite cutting a large number of its products, but it seems the increased demand continues to outstrip supply.
If you can’t find Lunchables at the store, you can always make a bento box lunch for the kids.
7. Juice Boxes
Another thing you might not be able to add to a packed lunch? Juice boxes. The NY Post reported that a smaller apple crop, along with packing and supply issues, has led to shortages of Capri Sun and other much-loved juice brands.
8. Cream Cheese
You might have to put off baking that cheesecake for now—stores are running out of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The shortage has gotten so bad that according to USA Today, bagel shops in NYC are struggling, while the Junior’s Cheesecakes production line was forced to briefly shut down.
9. Baby Formula
A troubling food shortage reported by the Wall Street Journal involves baby formula, with brands like Enfamil, Similac and Gerber becoming harder to find. With grocery shelves turning up empty, parents have taken to social media to ask where they can find formula. The recent baby formula recall has created even more pressure for parents across the country.
Specifically, champagne and beer. According to Wine Enthusiast, demand dropped for champagne dropped in 2020, and then rose again in 2021. This created a problem as the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), the trade organization for the Champagne region, set a lower production cap based on the reduced demand. Supply chain issues have compounded the problem.
Meanwhile, the shortage of aluminum cans and the increasing price of raw ingredients have led to shortages and higher prices for your favorite craft brew. In 2022, this trend seems set to accelerate.
Why Are These Items in Short Supply?
It’s because of labor shortages and supply-chain issues, from food manufacturers to grocery stores. There simply aren’t enough people to “make the goods, move the goods and sell the goods,” says Jim Dudlicek, a representative for the National Grocers Association. According to The Washington Post, the recent Omicron surge has also led to more employees calling out sick, affecting the supply chain as well as grocery stores. Recent winter storms have contributed to slow supply as well.
In addition, supply is affected by more people cooking and eating at home, a trend that started at the onset of the pandemic. “Demand has been very, very high,” Denis says. Still, she doesn’t think there’s a reason for people to stockpile. She pointed to lumber as an example of a product that was extremely hard to get for a while, but has become more plentiful in recent months, and the food supply chain likely will rebound in a similar fashion, although it may take time.
How to Shop Responsibly Right Now
If you see purchase limits on products at stores, there’s no reason to panic—or panic buy. The retailers are simply being responsible and managing inventory. “If people can buy what they need, and only what they need, we’ll have enough,” says Denis.
Shoppers should expect that specific items may be harder to get at certain times. Be mindful of your fellow shoppers and only take what you really need. And don’t hesitate to ask your local grocer about item availability.
If you’re hoping to stay out of grocery stores for safety reasons, these stores offer delivery and pickup.