No major shortage of grocery stores has been reported in central Pa., But that may soon change

No major shortage of grocery stores has been reported in central Pa., But that may soon change

News reports in recent days have shown alarmingly bare grocery shelves in some parts of the country.

Supermarket chains say the problems are an extension of an ongoing trend exacerbated by transportation problems associated with winter storms and staff shortages caused by increasing cases of the omicron variant.

“Certain parts of the country do not have these problems because they are not affected by any of the weather-related supply chain challenges, and they may not experience the omicron rise in the same way that another state experiences,” said Doug Baker, vice president of industrial relations. at the FMI, a food industry association, The Washington Post reported.

Here in central Pennsylvania, sporadic inventory problems continue to affect retailers, though not near the severity of the severe shortage of toilet paper in March 2020. Products such as orange juice, cat food, frozen pizzas and ground beef can sometimes be difficult to find.

“At this point, there have been no blips beyond what we’ve experienced over the past year,” said Scott Karns, CEO and president of Karns Foods in Central Pennsylvania.

But Karns warns that more temporary errors may be on the horizon in the coming weeks.

Alex Baloga, executive director and president of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, said many of the same challenges that retailers have faced in two years, such as labor and commodity shortages and supply chain problems, have worsened in recent weeks.

“There is a kind of sporadic deficiency, but they are all centered around many of the same problems that we have seen,” he said.

The winter weather certainly does not help. A snowstorm that constricted traffic in the DC region along I-95 last week delayed deliveries of important goods, such as fruit from the south. Karns said they experienced some temporary delays related to a truck stuck in North Carolina, but the issue has now been resolved.

Last weekend’s icy weather also nourished the traditional snowstorm shopping, Karns said, adding that they ordered extra staples such as bread and milk.

Nationwide, the highly contagious omicron variant continues to sick workers, creating staff shortages and disruptions across industries. Karns said he would not be surprised if more temporary deficiencies occur later this month or early February.

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“Right now, the pipeline has returned to a new normal, and now we’re going to see some factories shut down, possibly immediately,” Karns said, adding that some suppliers indicate they do not have enough truck drivers.

Dennis Curtin, spokesman for Weis Markets, said some processors are dealing with labor shortages or limited supplies of packaging materials. In other cases, Curtin noted that shipping companies do not have enough drivers and distribution centers do not have workers to unload trucks.

As an example, he said there are not enough workers in the ports to pack and load imported fruits like stone fruit and grapes on ships. Although there is a tight supply at the moment, Curtin said suppliers expect it to stabilize by the end of the month.

Grocery stores also deal with reduced workforce, according to the National Grocers Association, which told CNN that many of its members work 50% of their normal workforce.

“While there is plenty of food in the supply chain, we expect consumers to continue to experience sporadic disruptions in certain product categories that we have seen over the last year and a half due to the continuing supply and labor challenges,” said Greg. Ferrara, the group’s president and CEO, told CNN.

Karns said manufacturers like General Mills and Kraft Heinz say it could be summer or fall before inventory issues are resolved. Some manufacturers continue to produce only top-selling items, which means that customers still cannot find any taste, size or variation of certain product lines.

Ashley Flower, spokeswoman for The Giant Company, said increased demand and a tight supply chain have contributed to limited product availability in some cases.

“We continue to stay in close contact with our suppliers and work to bring in alternative products, but it is possible that customers may find that a particular brand or variety is not available due to these challenges,” he said. Flower.

The pandemic trend of more people cooking at home also continues, sending more people to grocery stores. Karns said people traditionally after the holidays cook more at home because they want to eat healthier and take care of their budgets.

But Curtin said it is also possible that the trend has increased due to the recent COVID increase.

“Today, an increasing number of people work remotely, making them more likely to take most of their meals at home,” he said. “It is possible that this trend is accelerated due to the omicron rise and the cold weather.”

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