Customers are noticing empty shelves at Whole Foods and they aren't very happy

Due to a supplier shortage, Whole Foods has been experiencing sparse supplies of grains, lentils and beans.
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/ Source: TODAY
By Aly Walansky

Fans of Whole Foods Market usually flock to the popular chain for its plethora of organic produce and healthy pantry staples. But lately shoppers have been reporting that the shelves at some locations have been a whole lot less packed.

Some shelves are even totally empty and it's happening at stores across the country.

“It’s the yogurt, for me!” Boston-based lifestyle journalist Lindsay Tigar told TODAY Food via email. “They are the only (grocers) who carry this one kind of dairy-free yogurt that I love and it’s constantly gone as of the last few weeks. I usually buy five a week and I haven’t been able to most of this month.”

Business Insider recently reported that shoppers have been noticing shortages of grains, beans and lentils at stores across the country. Shoppers in Washington, D.C. and California have reported a consistent lack of lettuce. Other hard-to-find items have included staples like bread and even sugar at some locations.

One Maryland-based Twitter account posted a photo that was supposedly taken at a Whole Foods in Columbia, Maryland.

Others simply (perhaps jokingly) called the situation distressing.

This isn’t the first time that customers have noticed empty shelves at Whole Foods. In early 2018, the same stocking issue caused an uproar across social media, but during that time it affected fresh meat and produce — not dry goods.

Many at the time blamed organizational and inventory issues related to Amazon's acquisition of the grocer.

When reached via email, a representative for the grocery chain acknowledged that the lack of some items is due to a current issue with a supplier.

“We are working through an issue related to sourcing of select packaged 365 Everyday Value beans, grains and rice due to the supplier of those items closing unexpectedly,” the rep explained. “Given that these items come from crops that are typically planted and harvested a year before they’re sold in our stores, it will take time for us to find a new, long-term supplier and restock these 365 Everyday Value products.

"We expect this process to take several months as we’re committed to finding the right partner, one that adheres to our rigorous quality standards, can support the volume of production needed for these popular items, and shares our commitment to building long-lasting, win-win partnership.”

That doesn’t mean people trying to enjoy a more plant-based lifestyle have to miss out. “Our customers can also find dry beans and grains in the bulk section of our stores. They can also try our quick cook, frozen, and microwavable 365 Everyday Value grains and rice products,” continued the representative.

Regarding lettuce shortages, Whole Foods said it recently encountered weather-related issues affecting the supply of lettuce coming from California.

“Unfortunately, weather and other supply factors outside of our control occasionally impact product availability. When this happens, we work as quickly as possible to find solutions and provide alternative options that meet our unparalleled quality standards,” the representative said.

The representative was not immediately able to address why certain dairy items or baked goods have reportedly been hard to find.

Whole Foods has gone through some significant changes over the past few years. While some, like lower prices and special discounts through Amazon Prime, have been welcome, there have clearly been some growing pains along the way.

Meanwhile, if you do come across your favorite lentils at Whole Foods in the next few weeks, you may want to grab a few bags while you can.