(WHTM) — It has been a year and a half since toilet paper first disappeared from store shelves, but why are shoppers still seeing grocery shortages, and how can they find the things they need when it seems like every week a new grocery shelf is empty?
Debbie Randall had to hunt all over town for Gatorade. Marlene Davis struggles to find her favorite brand of ham. And if it is something for a school lunch — like juice boxes or Lunchables — get ready for a food fight in aisle four.
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Ray Dietrich owns an independent grocery store. He said supplies are so tight that one missing ingredient, like crackers, can mean there will not be Lunchables delivered that week.
“The warehouse is shipping currently about 70% of what we order,” Dietrich said. “They’ve got the meat. They’ve got the other ingredients. They just haven’t got the crackers.”
So how can manufacturers and stores fix things? It is not easy according to Kerry Byrne, the president of the nation’s second-largest trucking coordinator, Total Quality Logistics. “Every component of the supply chain is stressed right now,” Byrne said.
TQL is working around the clock to get products to grocery store shelves. Byrne said President Joe Biden’s plan for the port of Lost Angeles to work 24 hours a day will help but will not cure everything.
“If we do get the product on the truck, and we send it to the distribution facility, but they don’t have the labor to unload it, that’s a problem,” Byrne said.
On top of that, manufacturers are cutting back on less popular items, such as root beer. So how can you find the grocery items that you…can’t find?
Newsweek suggests opening online accounts at Walmart, Target, and grocery stores, then ordering groceries for pickup. Shoppers can also check manufacturers’ websites for stores where their desired products are in stock, and they can try shopping at independent grocery stores that may offer a different selection of items.
In short, though, “you just have to get used to the fact that we won’t have full-blown variety for a while,” Dietrich said.
And “a while” could mean sometime next year. When asked if the situation might be better by the spring, Byrne said, “There’s a lot of good things going on out there, but these shortages and these disruptions — this is going to continue into 2022.”
As for Lunchables, Kraft Heinz blames school being back in session and says it is working on getting the popular school lunch back on store shelves soon.