Experts say a winter storm threatening parts of the eastern United States could lead to more grocery shortages.
"These winter storms are unfortunately going to add delays to an already strained supply chain," Miguel Gomez, professor of food marketing at Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics, told CNN Business Saturday. "I do think shoppers will see out-of-stocks in stores for certain grocery products."
With stores already struggling to keep inventory on the shelves for customers due to the continuing supply chain crisis and the absence of sick workers from a surge in COVID-19 cases, this weekend’s storm could only make thing worse.
The National Weather Service is forecasting snow for parts of the lower Mississippi Valley, Tennessee Valleys and Southern Appalachians, and freezing rain in the region, including the Carolinas Saturday, then moving to the northeast, bringing heavy snow Sunday to parts of the Lower Great Lakes and Ohio valleys, mid-Atlantic and central/southern Appalachians.
As the storm approaches Chicago, New York, and Boston, people are already posting pictures of empty grocery store shelves in outlets like Publix, Trader Joe’s, Giant Foods, and several others, CNN Business reported.
Miah Daugherty posted a photo on Twitter at a trader Joe’s in Bethesda, Maryland, showing empty shelves at 4 p.m. on Jan. 9, a time she said the store "is always stocked."
She said an employee blamed the empty shelves on problems with deliveries from a winter storm the prior week.
"There was not a single egg at the store, no fresh fruit, no garlic. Basically, the day-to-day staples were sparse," Daughtery said in the CNN story, adding that a nearby Giant Food store was low on dairy items and out of ground chicken.
According to the article, the IRI market research firm that monitors store stock and inventory levels found tighter supplies of food and household goods from a variety of stores, which are usually stocked between 90-95%.
Data provided by the company to CNN Business showed levels below that threshold, including frozen and refrigerated meats, frozen baked goods (69%), fruits, cookies, and breakfast items, and refrigerated beverages (88%).
Food Industry Association Vice President of Industry relations told the news outlet that while storms usually cause short-term disruptions in the supply chain that pass quickly, large absenteeism caused by the omicron variant is making the supply issues more "complex."
"If your favorite brand is not on the shelf, find a substitute," Baker said in the article. "Resist hoarding. If you take a little bit more than what you need, it can compound the situation."
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