By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT — What in the world is going on in the grocery stores? I’ve never seen such shortages in my life!
The first time I noticed this was when the pandemic broke out and shelves were literally stripped of bread, toilet paper, dried beans, rice, and canned goods like a plague of locusts had flown through. Things got better after a while but have never really recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
Every time we go to the grocery store together, my husband’s blood pressure jumps up…” This is that ‘Ridin’ with Biden’ working for you!” He rants and rails all up and down the aisles, raging about elevated prices and shortages.
I can’t blame him. It is difficult.
There is no doubt that prices are higher. And the shelves are noticeably bare. When I found blue Powerade on the shelf last week I bought all four six packs because it’s been unavailable for weeks.
There are a number of factors at work here. Rising fuel costs, rising production costs, and a shortage of workers all along the supply line play a factor:
The maker of Cheerios cereal and Betty Crocker cake mix is facing hundreds of disruptions across its operations, ranging from pricier raw ingredients to a shortage of truck drivers, which executives said will push up prices for supermarket customers over the months ahead.
Higher costs and logistical problems are squeezing General Mills and other U.S. food companies, prompting them to cut their own costs and swelling consumers’ shopping bills. Big food makers including Campbell Soup Co. and Conagra Brands Inc. are charging more for their products as the food industry faces the steepest inflation in a decade, while shrinking some grocery-store packages and dialing back discounts.
So, not only is this problem not getting better anytime soon, it’s going to get worse.
In Louisiana, SNAP participants will see an increase in their benefit starting next week. This isn’t necessarily in response to the shortages; apparently the thinking is that families are trying to stretch their food dollars by purchasing unhealthy, but filling, options, and if the government gives them more money, they will magically decide to buy fresh vegetables rather than Hot Pockets.
Benefits had been increased for inflation over the years. But flaws in the Thrifty Food Plan formula meant many families just couldn’t keep up with the costs. Consequently, families bought fewer fresh fruits and vegetables and relied on more convenient and less expensive processed foods to stretch their benefits for an entire month.
I’m not sure I agree with that logic, but…..
As the holidays approach, industry insiders are predicting more shortages. Grocery store chains are ordering earlier, hoping to be able to have what their customers need for the holidays, but many are having trouble getting fresh meat, like turkeys for example, because many production plants are not working at full capacity.
Obviously becoming alarmed and hoarding is the wrong approach here, but planning ahead is going to be a necessity it seems.
Meanwhile, I’m going to start leaving my husband at home when I go shopping. I don’t think his blood pressure can handle it!
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.