If you've recently been shopping, you may have noticed that many items are out of stock. Unfortunately, food shortages are becoming more common due to supply chain issues and various economic factors. And, if experts are correct, the shortages could significantly worsen in the coming months.
New Cooperative Inc., an agricultural services provider, has been hit by a cyberattack, forcing it to shut down its operations. The perpetrator, the BlackMatter organization, has demanded a $5.9 million ransom. As a result, New Cooperative Inc. has indicated that the cyberattack could significantly impact the national supply of grain, pig, and chicken if its systems cannot be restored.
Due to concerns about the delta variant, some shoppers are purchasing slightly more than usual in case they need to stay at home for an extended period of time. Many ready-to-eat items, such as frozen meals, are in exceptionally high demand, so they may be harder to find in grocery stores. Also, due to an aluminum shortage, canned goods such as sodas, soups, and canned meats are increasingly difficult to come by.
Even if products aren't difficult to find, you may notice they've increased in price. This is due to an economic concept called supply vs. demand. In essence, when products are in short supply but demand is extremely high, the price will increase. The reason? At higher prices, buyers will demand less of a specific product.
Fertilizer prices are at their highest in roughly a decade, which will lead to smaller harvests and higher food prices across the United States. Quoting an article published by Bloomberg: "Farmers growing the commodity-grade corn, soy, and other grains that fuel both livestock and packaged-food factories are already spending more than normal on seeds, labor, transportation, and equipment. That's helped contribute to sharp food inflation over the past year. A United Nations measure of global food prices is near the highest in a decade, a problem the fertilizer spike could exacerbate."
The US Labor Department recently recorded the highest yearly increase in inflation since the agency began keeping track (8.3 percent). This translates to higher grocery store costs, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a 0.4 percent increase in August. Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs are about 6% higher this year than last year. Farmers, on the other hand, say that none of the higher costs translate into profit. And to make things worse, the nation is currently experiencing a shortage of truck drivers to deliver food to grocery stores.
Experts in the United Kingdom have recently warned of permanent food shortages and supply chain problems. And, unfortunately, what's happening across the pond may be a foreshadowing of what may occur in the United States soon. Quoting the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) boss Ian Wright:
"The UK shopper and consumer could have previously expected just about any product they want to be on the [supermarket] shelf or in the restaurant all the time. That's over. And I don't think it's coming back."
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