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, 2022 is looking remarkably like fall 2020—and that means supply issues at grocery stores. At times like this you need to curb food waste, keep these tips handy to avoid throwing away food. This time the food shortages are scattered throughout the store, so 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 right now. Here are some products to look for during your next grocery run.

What Are Stores Running Short On?

1. Chickpeas

We love our hummus, but according to Reuters, we might see a drop in the supply of chickpeas soon. The Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted in a drop in production, as both countries are key suppliers of chickpeas for the world. Growers in the US have also dropped chickpeas lately in favor of other crops, reducing the domestic supply. Combine all this with continuing supply chain issues due to COVID, and you may have to start using other beans in your hummus recipe.

2. Wheat

Ukraine is one of the main suppliers of wheat in the world, and its invasion by Russia disrupted the supply chain entirely, according to Bloomberg. Coupled with a ban on exports by India, which was enacted to protect its food security, we’re seeing rising prices when it comes to wheat along with a possible shortage. Although some states that slashed their grocery taxes may help make groceries more affordable. It might be time to ditch the pasta—and pastina—and move to rice recipes for a while.

3. Sugar

According to Reuters, Brazil recently diverted more sugarcane to ethanol production, rather than sugar, due to high energy prices. Ethanol, aka alcohol, is used for a variety of products. This could mean a drop in sugar supply, leading to increased prices and possible shortages.

4. Avocados

You may be seeing less of this fruit (yes, avocado is a fruit) on shelves. The American government suspended imports of Mexican avocados earlier this year 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. While imports have resumed, prices are at an all-time high, and missing shipments may still cause shortages.

5. Paper Goods

This is an item that we’ve seen at the top of shortage lists for the last two years—toilet paper. According to Bloomberg, pulp supplies have been affected yet again by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, causing shortages of supply from Europe. This could result in shortages of TP or, at the very least, price spikes. Other paper goods like paper towels and tissues might also be affected.

6. Canned Goods

With people stocking up on goods like canned biscuits 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.

7. Eggs and Meat

In spring 2021, 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 Business Insider, nearly half of Americans in a survey reported seeing a shortage of meat and eggs in the beginning of 2022. It might be time to switch to vegetarian dinners (sans the eggs) for a while to combat this food shortage.

8. 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.

9. Baby Formula

The Wall Street Journal broke the news of a baby formula shortage earlier this year, 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.

10. Liquor

Specifically, champagne, wine 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. A glass shortage has also led to soaring wine prices and talk of a shortage.

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 Parade, the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia plays a role, with supply chains from Europe heavily disrupted. Labor shortages also continue, with people still out due to COVID-19 or resigning due to low wages and poor work conditions.

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.

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Amrita Thakkar
Amrita is an Assistant Digital Editor at Taste of Home. As a writer and amateur photographer, she often ends up applying these skills to her one great love: food. She can usually be found researching global cuisines, at the farmers market, doing yoga, or looking up new places to travel to.