Grocery store shortages are back. Here are some of the reasons why


Joe Hernandez, Nevada Public Radio KNPR/NPR

Jan 12, 2022


No, you're not imagining it. Some grocery store shelves are bare again, conjuring bad memories of spring 2020 for many.


Social media is rife with images of empty supermarket aisles and signs explaining the lack of available food and other items. Stores such as Aldi have apologized to customers for the shortages.


The reasons for the dwindling stock are numerous, according to food industry analysts, and include some issues that impacted retailers at the beginning of the pandemic as well as challenges that have cropped up more recently.


"We're really seeing the perfect storm," Phil Lempert, editor of the website, told NPR.


Lempert said the Northeast is facing some of the worst shortages now, due in part to recent winter storms that snarled transportation routes, but that could change with the weather.


But Nate Rose, the communications director for the California Grocers Association, said any comparison to March 2020 is not quite right.


"There are some issues with out-of-stocks, but it tends to be a situation where if you go to a store on a Tuesday night, maybe something's out of stock, but by Wednesday sometime it's back in store," Rose told NPR.


"Everyone's become really reliant on kind of that just-in-time supply chain," he added, "and I think what we're seeing is things are just behind a little bit right now."


Some conservatives have begun using the hashtag #BareShelvesBiden to blame the current administration for the shortages, even though grocery stores experienced serious supply problems under President Donald Trump, too.


Here are some of the reasons driving the current supply shortages at your local supermarket:


The omicron variant ...


Labor shortages ...


Trucking and shipping ...  


Severe weather and climate change ...


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