Shifts in food supply and demand resulting from COVID-19 shutdowns have caused food companies to fall behind, creating shortages at stores. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Grocers are having trouble staying stocked with goods from flour to soups as climbing coronavirus case numbers and continued lockdowns pressure production and bolster customer demand.
Manufacturers including General Mills Inc., Campbell Soup Co. and Conagra Brands Inc. say they are pumping out food as fast as they can, but can’t replenish inventories. Popular items such as flour, canned soup, pasta and rice remain in short supply.
As of July 5, 10% of packaged foods, beverages and household goods were out of stock, up from 5% to 7% before the pandemic, according to market-research firm IRI.
“We are running flat out,” said Conagra’s Chief Executive Sean Connolly. He said Conagra won’t be able to build up inventory of certain brands, such as Chef Boyardee and Healthy Choice, unless demand slows or it further increases manufacturing capacity.
Food makers and grocers expect prolonged shelter-in-place orders and restrictions on restaurants, as well as the battered economy, to result in a longer stretch of eating at home. Added safety measures at plants are slowing operations, too. There is enough food in the U.S. to keep people fed, executives say, but every product might not be available everywhere while inventories are strained.
Many retailers in states where cases are surging, including Texas-based H-E-B LP, are reinstating rationing on high-demand items including paper products. They say their distributors are still capping the amount of fast-selling products that can be ordered at one time.
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