7 Grocery Supply Chain Issues Caused by the Pandemic

eldar nurkovic / Shutterstock.com

COVID-19 has disrupted almost all facets of American life — from jobs and schools to recreational activities. Our food chain hasn’t been spared.

As the pandemic spreads across the country, some grocery items have been in short supply. In some cases, that’s a result of shoppers hoarding products. Workers at plants getting sick and falling demand also are part of the equation.

Here are some common grocery items whose availability in stores has been disrupted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

1. Rice

Travelerpix / Shutterstock.com

People rushed to stock up on essentials at the start of the pandemic, and bags of rice — a stockpile staple — quickly disappeared from warehouse clubs, supermarkets and ethnic food stores. (White rice, for example, can last for decades if properly stored, as we detail in “10 Foods That Can Keep for Years.”)

In April, prices for the commodity hit a seven-year high.

The good news is that rice production in the U.S. is up 17% this year, meaning there should be enough to go around. It’s just a question of getting it to retailers’ shelves.

2. Potatoes

restaurant chef cooking french fries outdoors
SunKids / Shutterstock.com

Consumers have been clearing stores of frozen french fries. Major potato processors have slashed their contracts with Washington and Oregon farmers by as much as 50%. That action is a result of decreased demand from restaurants, many of which have shut down, shifted to takeout or reduced their seating capacity.

Processors may be looking to avoid losses in case restaurant orders fail to bounce back this year. But reduced potato production may mean that consumers will continue to find frozen fries and hash browns hard to come by in the supermarket.

3. Eggs

Woman cooking eggs
Hoover Tung / Shutterstock.com

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says there are plenty of eggs to meet immediate demand. That didn’t stop prices from rising and store shelves from emptying in the early part of the pandemic, however.

A spike in demand in March led to New York wholesale prices for in-shell eggs hitting a record high of $3.07 a dozen. Since then, demand has stabilized, and wholesale prices dropped to $1.97 per dozen in mid-April.

4. Flour

African American man baking.
WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock.com

Flour is another product affected by a jump in demand during the pandemic.

When stay-at-home orders began rolling out across the country, people stocked up on pantry staples. The rush on flour not only cleared supermarket shelves but also resulted in a nearly 3% increase in the price of cereal and bakery products in April, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

5. Meat

David Tadevosian / Shutterstock.com

The U.S. doesn’t seem to have any shortage of cows and pigs. Nevertheless, meat has been in short supply at grocery stores these past few months.

COVID-19 outbreaks among workers at meat processing facilities caused some plant closures. Other plants are operating at a reduced capacity.

As a result, the number of cattle slaughtered in mid-April was down 22% from the previous year and the number of hogs processed had dropped 6%. Fewer animals being processed means fewer packages of beef and pork for sale in the store.

6. Yeast

Stasique / Shutterstock.com

The pandemic apparently has brought out the inner baker in many of us. Yeast sales in March through April were 410% higher than the year before.

A vice president of Fleischmann’s Yeast told USA Today that the company typically keeps a two-to-three-week buffer of inventory. That sold out almost immediately when pandemic-fueled buying began.

Fortunately, the company has plenty of raw materials to make more, so it’s just a matter of time before a ready supply of yeast is available again.

7. Dairy

Boy with ice cream
Here / Shutterstock.com

With restaurants, offices and coffee shops closed, demand for dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and ice cream dried up early in the pandemic.

In April, the National Milk Producers Federation warned that the U.S. milk supply had exceeded demand by at least 10%. The Dairy Farmers of America estimated farmers were dumping upward of 3.7 million gallons of milk each day.

Despite all this, some grocery stores ran out of milk and limited sales as consumers stocked up and processors struggled to keep up with changes in the market.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Free Tools for Saving More Money at Amazon
7 Free Tools for Saving More Money at Amazon

Use these websites and other tools to save money — or earn extra cash — when shopping at Amazon.

8 Things You Can Buy for $1 or Less on Amazon
8 Things You Can Buy for $1 or Less on Amazon

They say you get what you pay for — but not always. Sometimes, you can uncover a good deal at a great price.

5 Ways to Save at Dollar Tree
5 Ways to Save at Dollar Tree

Yes, it’s possible to pay less than a buck for items from a dollar store.

12 Expenses You May Be Tempted to Claim as Tax Deductions — but Shouldn’t
12 Expenses You May Be Tempted to Claim as Tax Deductions — but Shouldn’t

Thinking of trying to deduct a few of these things on your federal tax return? That could be a costly mistake.

9 Foods You Should Never Buy Again
9 Foods You Should Never Buy Again

Make the wrong food choices, and you can ruin your health — and possibly shorten your life.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco
9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco

Are you missing out on serious savings at your favorite warehouse club?

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best
Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best

One brand takes five of the top honors, while another ranks highest in three categories.

The 10 Worst States for Retirees in 2021
The 10 Worst States for Retirees in 2021

Based on factors like affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.