Have you noticed how bare your grocery store shelves have been recently? You’re not the only one who feels this way. There are shortages of highly precise substances due to supply chain difficulties.
“Meat products are still one of the more difficult products to keep in stock,” says Rodney Holcomb, an Oklahoma State University food economist. “Following concerns about meat availability last year, many consumers are stockpiling meat in anticipation of another pandemic shutdown.”
Concerns about the delta version, according to Holcomb, have caused some buyers to buy a little more than usual, just in case they need to buckle down and stay at home for a while. Many ready-to-eat foods, such as frozen meals or shelf-stable mac and cheese boxes, are in particularly high demand, so they may be tougher to come by.
But it’s not simply the increased demand that’s causing problems; supply is also an issue right now. According to Holcomb, an aluminum scarcity is making canned goods such as sodas, soups, and tinned meats difficult to come by. Because they’re aluminum-packaged and shelf-stable, they’re both in low supply and high demand.
Even if you can locate your items, they will almost certainly be more expensive. According to the Department of Labor, the price of meat, poultry, fish, and eggs increased 5.9% from July 2020 to July 2021. Overall, the expense of eating at home has increased by 2.6 percent.
What’s the source of the scarcity and high prices?
“We call it a shortage, but it’s more of a food supply bottleneck,” Holcomb explains. “We have the same production capacity as before, but labor shortages are affecting harvesting, processing, packaging, and shipping.”
We had meat shortages throughout 2020, according to Holcomb, but not because there wasn’t enough animals to go around. COVID-19 outbreaks, on the other hand, would shut down meat processing plants, causing a bottleneck in the flow of products. In other circumstances, socially remote setups at processing plants and industries resulted in lower overall efficiency.
Energy prices, according to Holcomb, are another factor pushing rising costs. Refrigerating perishable food is expensive, not only in the store but also on the way to the store. Energy prices are now high (as you may have seen at the gas pump), and these expenses are passed on to consumers.
The food chain was starting to normalize, but the delta version threw everything for a loop. Next year, in 2022, Holcomb expects things to be more steady.
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