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Grocery stores struggle to meet demand
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Greg Fults checks out what’s available in terms of biscuits at Super Rama on Friday. Said Super Rama manager Keith Hollingsworth, “Pillsbury and Kraft control about half of that section so when they get behind it’s really noticeable.”
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It’s getting harder to find a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk, although Warren County grocery stores are managing to keep their shelves reasonably well stocked.

“Fortunately, we’ve been able to keep up with most of our meat and produce,” said Super Rama manager Keith Hollingsworth on Friday. “The big thing is we’re not getting full delivery loads. The worst was this Thursday when only 29% of what we expected was delivered.”

Hollingsworth explained that a grocery truck might be expected to deliver 1,000 items, but when it arrives it only has 290 of those items, meaning he only received 29% of what was scheduled to be delivered.

“A lot of the problem is we haven’t caught up from Christmas,” said Hollingsworth. “Christmas is a holiday where a lot of people are off work so that slows down what is produced and what is delivered. When you combine that with the weather we’ve been having, and personnel issues like the shortage of warehouse workers and truck drivers, it’s easy to see how we’ve fallen behind. Then there’s the COVID issue too that’s keeping people out of work and slowing everything down.”

Hollingsworth says he expects the grocery supply issue to linger for a couple months until supply needs can meet demand.

He says inclement weather presents two problems – 1) it creates bad road conditions that may delay delivery trucks, and 2) it results in a mad rush on grocery items from customers stocking up on basics.

Those comments were echoed by Warehouse Discount Groceries owner Jay Mitchell, who operates grocery distribution centers as well as retail grocery locations.

“As far as WDG, we are receiving our regular deliveries on time, but are having some trouble getting all the product that we want,” said Mitchell. “There is no shortage of food, but there are delays in manufacturing of some products and delays in transportation from the manufacturer to our warehouse due to staffing shortages. Also, there was not sufficient time between the holidays and the snow demand to build inventories back up. We expect to continue to be in stock on all key commodity items, but will continue to struggle in the short term keeping the usual variety of brands and sizes due to these delays.”

Kroger is dealing with similar issues.

“We are working hard to keep our shelves stocked, but weather conditions and COVID-19 have made things challenging,” said Melisa Eads, spokeswoman for Kroger of Middle Tennessee. “These factors affect the supply chain at every level from manufacturers keeping up with the demand, to warehousing and transportation, to store level.”

The pandemic is approaching its second full year since it first hit America with both fists in March of 2000. The Omicron variant continues to infect employees and cause missed work time. It’s put a dent in efforts to return to normal as far as supply chain issues are concerned.

Grocery stores are operating with less than their normal workforces, according to the National Grocers Association, and many of its members have less than 50% of their normal workforce.

“While there is plenty of food in the supply chain, we anticipate consumers

will continue to experience sporadic disruptions in certain product categories as we have seen over the past year and half due to the continued supply and labor challenges,” said Greg Ferrara, the National Grocers Association president and CEO.

Perhaps worst of all, when supplies begin to tighten the prices increase as a result. This is the basic law of supply and demand taught in Economics 101.