Shortages on grocery shelves have become commonplace during the COVID-19 pandemic, as supply chain issues keep people from being able to find their favorite items and sometimes result in purchase limits.
Whether it's the rising cost of shipping due to a lack of truck drivers and service workers, congestion at ports or COVID-19 restrictions, Americans have had to adjust their expectations when food shopping, and restaurants have even had to modify their menus.
"Shopping early for the holidays is a wise strategy, especially under current conditions," Chris Jones, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs & Counsel of the National Grocers Association told TODAY Food.
"There’s plenty of food in the supply chain, but certain items may be harder to get at certain times due to a nationwide shortage of labor impacting manufacturers, shippers and retailers. Additionally, lack of enforcement of antitrust laws in the grocery marketplace have allowed dominant retailers to secure more favorable terms and ample supplies of high-demand goods while leaving many smaller retailers with limited selections or, in some cases, bare shelves."
Jones said that NGA is working on this long-term issue that has been exacerbated by the pandemic so local grocers can continue serving their communities. "In the meantime, shoppers should consider their neighbors and limit quantities to only what they need," he said.
Here are all of the most recent shortages stores have been experiencing, causing customers to look elsewhere or make substitutions when it comes to grocery shopping:
Lunchables: Parents have reported the popular meal kits missing from grocery store shelves this year. Possible substitutions include eating the lunch school provides or sending your child to school with last night's leftovers or a good old-fashioned sandwich.
Wine and liquor: Supply chain issues have led to bottle limits in some states. Subbing out your usual booze brand for something local is one way to circumvent the problem and support small businesses.
Canned goods: Canned goods — like canned vegetables and soups, soda, teas and other beverages — may be less plentiful due to aluminum availability.
Meat: Prices of certain meats may be higher and supplies could be tighter due to processing plants not working at full capacity.
Turkeys: Rising transportation costs and a shortage of truck drivers mean you should start your Thanksgiving shopping earlier this year, as smaller fresh and frozen turkeys may be in shorter supply.
Fish sticks and fish sandwiches: A customs dispute at the U.S.-Canada border left 26 million pounds of fish in cold storage in Canada, which could leave you without that Filet-O-Fish.
In addition to shortages, it's possible we will also see rising prices at the grocery store. Here are five ways to save on your next trip to the market.