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Shortages leave store shelves barren - here's why you can't find chicken, coffee, diapers and other things you need

Audacy logo Audacy 10/19/2021 Mark Menard
Empty shelves © Provided by KRLD Radio Dallas Empty shelves

Have you often found yourself frustrated in the grocery store aisles lately, looking left and right at bare shelves, wondering where all the merchandise is? It may not be much of a comfort to hear this, but you’re not alone.

A worldwide supply-chain shortage continues its stranglehold on commerce even as we round the corner towards the homestretch of our second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But why is everything so scarce?

Professor Tinglong Dai of Johns Hopkins University told USA Today that a variety of challenges have combined to make it difficult for stores to stay stocked with even common items, citing “record-level congestion at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach that has spread to the East Coast, the widespread power outages across China, shortages of truck drivers and service workers, and COVID-19-fueled infections and restrictions.”

So what grocery store staples have been affected?

Chicken suppliers announced back in May that a shortage of the common poultry entrée could limit its availability and cause a price increase.

Coffee production and transportation has been sluggish due to a drought in Brazil, the world’s leading supplier of the beans that make the beverage.

Diapers have been saddled with price increases due to an increase in the cost of the raw materials that go into making them, coupled with shipping delays.

Toilet paper manufacturers still haven’t caught up to the early-pandemic demand that left store shelves devoid of T.P., and a shortage of raw materials is making it even more difficult. Some retailers are once again limiting the amount of toilet paper a customer can purchase as manufacturers are still only filling about 60% of all orders, according to Fox Business.

And even more products could be affected by a coming carbon dioxide shortage. The fertilizer plants that produce it have had to cut back due to a rise in cost.

Per Hong of the consulting firm Kearney told CNBC, “We almost certainly will be faced with a global shortage of CO2 that is used widely. CO2 is used extensively in the food value chain from inside packaged food to keep it fresher longer, for dry ice to keep frozen food cold during delivery, to giving carbonated beverages their bubbles.”

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