10 Groceries That Are in Short Supply — or Soon May Be

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Woman next to an empty grocery store shelf
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As COVID-19 surged across the globe, we all got used to shortages of our favorite grocery items. However, few of us imagined such scarcity would stretch on for years.

But almost three years since the pandemic began, a shifting list of grocery goods continues to disappear before our eyes. Every time one of these absent items finally pops up on the shelf again, another food goes missing.

Following is a list of the latest grocery items that suddenly are vanishing, or soon will be.

1. Butter

Butter on a plate
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In September, the price of margarine and butter leaped 32% year over year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. No other grocery category saw such a rise.

The rising price of vegetable oil — the key ingredient in margarine — is partially responsible. The war in Ukraine and tightening supplies of milk also are playing a role.

2. Potatoes

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A one-two weather punch sent spuds for a loop this year.

In the spring, cool weather in Idaho, Colorado and Wisconsin slowed potato growth. A hot summer didn’t help matters.

As a result, the supply of potatoes is low, but demand remains high.

3. Olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil at Costco
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A terrible drought in Spain this summer is resulting in a dramatically lower harvest of olives this fall.

Kyle Holland, a pricing analyst for oilseeds and grains at commodities data company Mintec, told CNN:

“The drought is too significant. It’s simply too dry. Some trees are producing very little fruit, some trees are producing no fruit at all.”

4. Beer

Making a toast with beer glasses
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OK, now things are getting serious: A shortage of beer?

A lack of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the U.S., the gas used for putting fizz into drinks, has stymied breweries and food suppliers. Some smaller breweries have had to suspend operations, while others are trying their luck using nitrogen as a substitute.

5. Spaghetti sauce

Tomatoes on a wood table
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California is the global center for the production of processing tomatoes, the kind of tomatoes that get canned and are used to make tomato-based products.

But a nasty drought has destabilized California’s tomato crop, threatening the supply of spaghetti sauce.

Things aren’t much better in Florida, where Hurricane Ian ripped up the tomato crop.

6. Turkey

Thanksgiving turkey
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Just in time for the holidays, turkey meat has gone into hiding.

A combination of avian flu and supply chain woes already is impacting restaurants, and the shortage of turkey could be on its way to a Thanksgiving dinner table near you.

7. Rice

Bag of white rice
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In recent years, the supply of rice actually has grown larger. But that ended this year, when severe drought conditions from China to California finally took their toll.

U.S. rice production is expected to drop to its lowest level in three decades.

8. Hard red winter wheat

Red winter wheat
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The ongoing drought and another year of La Niña — a weather pattern that leads to warm and dry conditions on the southern Great Plains — have put the hard red winter wheat crop at risk for lower yields in 2023.

This versatile wheat is used in many breads, hard rolls, croissants, some types of Asian noodles and flour, according to U.S. Wheat Associates.

9. Amoxicillin

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Bad news if you’re hoping to pick up a certain medication at your grocery store pharmacy: At least three drugmakers say the supply of the popular antibiotic amoxicillin is running short.

However, some drugmakers are hopeful the situation will turn around soon.

10. Baby formula

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A shortage of baby formula made headlines earlier this year after a nationwide recall of baby formula and the shutdown of a major manufacturing plant. Many months later, the situation has improved, but stock rates still remain lower than normal.