If you've noticed that the shelves at your local grocery store are looking a little sparse these days, you aren't imagining things. Grocery stores across Pennsylvania have been struggling to keep shelves stocked, and that may not change any time soon.
According to one recent study, 7 out of 10 consumers reported experiencing food shortages and low or no stock of basic household necessities in their local supermarket in the past few months.
But what is causing the shortages?
Currently, multiple factors are affecting the ability of Pennsylvania stores to keep essential items in stock.
Many communities across the Commonwealth have experienced heavy snowfalls and frigid weather the past few weeks. When the weather gets bad, people tend to "panic buy" and stock up on more than they need for the immediate future. Unfortunately, this type of consumer behavior puts additional stress on a supply chain that is already strained.
We first started seeing supply chain issues at the start of the pandemic. However, other factors like ongoing labor shortages, freight delays, lack of truck drivers, and the availability of raw ingredients have created a "perfect storm" that has resulted in food shortages across the state.
In other parts of the country, food shortage issues aren't as prevalent because warmer states don't have the added challenge of dealing with adverse weather, ice, and winter storms. However, Pennsylvania typically experiences heavy snowfall and other weather conditions in January, February, and early March.
As we work our way through the winter months, we should be prepared for additional food shortages. Items that seem to be the hardest hit by the supply chain issues are meat, produce, dairy products, baby formula, and pet food.
Some stores are placing limits on the number of items that customers are allowed to buy per visit in an effort to prevent panic buying and hoarding. While the issue doesn't seem to be a lack of food or products available, the main challenge that supermarkets are facing across Pennsylvania is just getting the items to the store.
Have you experienced food shortages at your local supermarket?
Let us know in the comments.