11 Things That Stores Struggle To Keep in Stock

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

After years of disruption, broken supply chains appear to be on the mend. However, the future of fragile global supply chains complicated by climate change and labor shortages promises continued consumer chaos.

As supply chain issues continue, let’s take a closer look at what you can do to stay one step ahead of empty shelves and higher price tags.

Why Supply Chain Problems Persist

Woman next to an empty grocery store shelf
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Periodic shortages of popular goods are not unprecedented, but supply disruptions may be a long-term problem for global trade.

Multiple supply chain issues — such as problems at production facilities, already fragile global supply chains, production capacity, climate change, and labor and truck driver shortages — have converged to create the perfect consumer storm. And while we’re unlikely to see empty shelves, the supply chain crisis isn’t over.

Unfortunately, it may take years rather than months to resolve shortages completely, particularly in the semiconductor industry, where the production of cars, smartphones, computers and cameras has been affected.

We can’t always predict when some products will be back in stock, but you can shop (or order) now for some items and avoid surges in demand later.

Products Affected by Supply Chain Issues

Women staring at empty shelves at the grocery store
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Here are some products expected to be affected by supply chain shortages, labor shortages and heavy consumer demand over the next several months.


  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Sunflower and other oils
  • Tomato products
  • Milk
  • Sriracha
  • Sugar

Household and Personal Care Items:

  • Prescription medications
  • Canning supplies


  • Electric vehicles
  • Computers and smartphones

11 Things You Should Stock Up on Now To Avoid Shortages

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But first, don’t give in to the temptation of panic buying. Artificial demand can create supply chain disruption — think the great toilet paper shortage of 2020.

Picking up a few extra items or buying early is a smart way to stock up, though, without emptying store shelves for other shoppers.

7 Foods Affected by Supply Chain Shortages

Man looking at food label in the grocery store.
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These food staples are in short supply, so stock up your cart now with shelf-stable products on sale.

1. Wheat

man buying food for a stockpile
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Amid news Russia would no longer honor a wartime grain deal that kept supplies moving out of the conflict zone in Ukraine, wheat and corn prices rose and concerns of shortages are growing.

A global grain shortage would impact not only supplies of bread and flour, but also convenience foods like pasta, crackers, and more.

2. Corn

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Ukraine is also a major supplier of corn, and while dire shortages aren’t expected, there may be some delays and hiccups in keeping a steady global supply as Russia continues to disrupt shipments.

Corn takes center stage in many processed foods in America because it’s relatively cheap and easy to grow so stock up on corn-based cereals, tortillas and more.

3. Sunflower and Other Oils

Cooking oil
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Alongside grain and corn, Ukraine also supplies much of the world’s sunflower oil.

Many food manufacturers have sought out alternatives, causing demand to rise for other oils like soybean and palm oil, which have been affected by drought.

4. Tomato Products

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Due to extreme drought, California is struggling to keep the tomato crop from going under this year. Global supplies are even under stress in India, where the tomato is a centerpiece of regional cuisine.

That means higher prices for everything tomato, including staples like salsa, marinara sauce and even ketchup (gasp!).

Toss a few extra bottles of anything tomato into your cart in the coming weeks to see some savings later.

5. Milk

A young girl drinks milk
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Farmers warn that the same labor and supply issues that impacted eggs could mean milk shortages in the coming months.

In the meantime, vegan dairy substitutes and milk alternatives are coming in handy. Consider shopping a few at the store to see how they stack up to traditional dairy standbys like milk, yogurt and cheese.

6. Sriracha

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After a meager chile pepper crop from Thailand last year, everyone’s favorite Sriracha sauce has been in short supply. The good news is that Sriracha alternatives abound if you’re willing to experiment.

Don’t hesitate to stock up if you’re absolutely loyal to Huy Fong’s Sriracha sauce. According to Insider, if you stash it in the fridge, the sauce stays fresh for up to two years after opening.

7. Sugar

Sugar cubes
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If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the news of a possible sugar shortage might leave a sour taste in your mouth.

The sugar shortage started in the Philippines with a lower-than-expected output in 2022, complicated by traders hoarding to manipulate the market.

Now, the Dominican Republic has also sounded the alarm and India and Brazil, two of the world’s biggest sugar suppliers, are restricting sugar exports to ensure domestic supply.

Personal and Household Products You Should Stock Up On

Cleaning supplies at Aldi
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Because these necessities are ones most can’t do without, stocking extra boxes to avoid shortages is a smart idea.

8. Prescription Medications

Woman taking medication
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Perhaps most concerning of all are current shortages of common prescription medications such as antibiotics, antivirals and even ADHD medications, which are largely driven by increased demand.

And while you can’t always stock up on meds, you can keep a closer eye on your pill supply and allow extra time for refills at the pharmacy.

9. Canning Supplies

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Socking away enough food to outlive the next apocalypse is an old pastime that’s brand new again thanks to the pandemic. If you’re trying to join the gardening and canning renaissance, you may find locating canning lid jars and other supplies a barrier to entry.

In further proof that everything old is new again, canning jar lids were also in short supply in 1975 as the nation faced an explosion of home gardeners.

Here are other products affected by supply chain shortages.

10. Electric Vehicles

Young man recharging an EV car
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EVs are the talk of the town, but electric vehicle manufacturers might struggle to go mainstream due to supply chain problems. GM even had to shut down a plant recently due to shortages of essential materials for production.

The issue is specifically global stress on supplies of graphite, nickel and other minerals needed for lithium batteries.

11. Computers and Smartphones

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The U.S. has made progress building redundancy into semiconductor supply chains, but it will take time for new manufacturers to boost market supplies. In the meantime, semiconductor shortages affect everything with a computer chip, from smartphones to airplanes.

The latest victim of chip shortages? Credit cards. If yours is close to the expiration date, give the bank a nudge to make sure the replacement is in the mail.

Other Shortages That May Impact Critical Supplies in 2023 and Beyond

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While you can’t exactly stock up on labor, it’s important to know that labor shortages and strikes will impact a wide variety of industries and make themselves felt in consumers’ daily lives this year.

From TV networks and streaming services to shipping and trucking companies, everyone will feel the pinch.

There’s also a concerning and crucial drug shortage in the U.S. that continues to affect supplies for hospitals, cancer treatments and more.

Buy Now, Save Later

Woman grocery shopping
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Shortages aren’t always predictable, but anticipating supply chain disruptions can help shoppers get ahead of empty shelves. And if you have the space and funds to stock up now, those savings can really add up later.

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