Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the Delta variant in particular, grocery stores like Walmart are having problems stocking certain items. This is due to a number of varying reasons. For one, some consumers are still keen on hoarding essential products. Two, employers are having a tougher time hiring and keeping employees, a dynamic that impacts the efficacy of the supply chain.
It’s unfortunate that we’ve been in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic for nearly 20 months now. Even though we have effective vaccines available, many people still remain reluctant to get vaccinated. As a result, vaccines didn’t stop COVID-19 dead in its tracks. On the contrary, the virus had a chance to mutate. A few months ago, the Delta variant began spreading like wildfire across the US.
Walmart food shortage
Word of food shortages at Walmart first started to emerge early last month. Not surprisingly, this coincided with a huge surge of COVID-19 infections. In September, the US was seeing upwards of 160,000 new infections every single day. Hospitalization and death rates also started to surge at the same time.
With October now in full swing, COVID-19 infections are thankfully on the decline. Food shortages, however, persist. Even when certain food items are available for purchase, a scarcity of supply has led to higher prices.
In a post that went viral on Facebook, Taste of Home asked its readers to detail any grocery store shortages they encountered. The response was overwhelming.
A few items that are particularly hard to find at the moment include beef, pork, chicken, juice products, and snacks.
With respect to beef, one issue is that some meat processors have seen a huge dropoff in employees on account of vaccination requirements.
One Walmart employee, commenting on Reddit, said the following about the supply of Gatorade:
We get half a pallet to a pallet randomly. Not enough to fill the shelves, but enough to stripe and face them so they don’t look empty, until ten minutes after we open that is. I’ve noticed we’re short on a lot of great value juices and overall a lot of great value products, which is weird since I thought Walmart owned them.
Food shortages aren’t nationwide just yet
As it stands now, most food shortages tend to be regional.
The USDA notes:
There are currently no nationwide shortages of food, although in some cases the inventory of certain foods at your grocery store might be temporarily low before stores can restock.
There is, however, a nationwide labor shortage which, again, impacts the supply chain and the ability of grocery stores to stock their shelves.
As a result, Walmart in September said it plans to hire 20,000 new workers to help with the holidays. The extent to which this will ease Walmart’s inventory issues remains to be seen.