WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Panic buying became an early issue in the pandemic but there’s an even bigger problem in recent weeks.
The supply chain is blamed for leaving some grocery store shelves lean or even empty.
Supplies are being interrupted by national staffing shortages, both short and long-term, and winter storms, leaving some products at some major retailers in much shorter supply than others.
Jennifer Geiger says, “This shelf is going to be your private labeled croutons.”
Schiel’s Family Market Store Manager Jennifer Geiger points to one of only a few shelves that’s thinned out.
It’s the same story for some kids’ juice boxes, some cream cheese, and even a certain name brand of orange juice.
“If you have one, a lot of orange juice then why are you missing one thing. So I would think it’s a lot of transportation,” said Elizabeth Gribble, shopper, Plains Township.
Getting food from there to here is a problem often dictated by geography, the supply chain, and even something as simple as consumer buying habits.
“Well, Mark, we’ve been experiencing some shortages, but for the most part we are pretty well stocked,” said Geiger.
But the product she says is the most difficult to keep stocked is canned pet food, a problem for a certain shopper who has four cats to feed.
“I get what’s available. That’s all I can do. Whatever’s available. If not, then they’re going to have to start eating tuna fish which is a bit more expensive than cat food,” said shopper, Dave Standish, Wilkes-Barre.
Limited canned cat food appears to be linked to labor, materials, and packaging.
It’s not just pet food that’s a problem for some major grocery store chains. They’re dealing with shortages in produce, meat, and packaged products like cereal.
“I can never. Every time I go there I can never find what I’m looking for, yeah,” said shopper, Idenice Hernandez, Wilkes-Barre. “Here I can.”
Geiger says that’s no accident. She credits Schiel’s with knowing what their customers want and ordering inventory four times a week.
“Right now, we’re just working really hard to keep the orders going through and getting the orders out on the shelves,” said Geiger.
Geiger says what’s key to those orders is creating enough options for shoppers in case certain items are unavailable.
And another theory experts have on certain food product shortages is that more of us are eating at home during the pandemic.
As for the canned pet food problem, more of us have adopted pets during the pandemic.