BREAKING NEWS

Shoppers find some groceries scarce due to virus, weather

Shortages at U.S. grocery stores have grown more acute in recent weeks.

New problems like the fast-spreading omicron variant and severe weather are piling on to the supply chain struggles and labor shortages that have plagued retailers since the coronavirus pandemic began.

News4JAX took a peek inside the Lakewood Winn Dixie, and a found a few holes in products like like paper plates and paper cups.

Paper supplies aisle at Jacksonville Winn Dixie on Jan. 12, 2022.

Other paper products, like toilet paper and paper towels were there, but not fully stocked. And we found the shelves for drinks like Gatorade were glaringly empty.

Erin Hearney, who was shopping, said she’d noticed shortages of specific products she needs to make a living.

“I do have a baking business, and I’ve actually started using Amazon a lot,” Hearney said. “And I was always against buying, I don’t know, almond flour from Amazon for my macaroons -- I’d just go to Publix. But if Publix doesn’t have it, and I drive to another Publix and they don’t have it, it just gets frustrating.”

Mike Chute has been shopping at the Lakewood Winn Dixie for at least 20 years. While he says supplies have been fairly constant, he says there have been times during the pandemic that certain products are thin.

“When it first started, there were a lot of shortages. The shelves were bare. But, you know, I think that was a lot of, you know, panic button,” Chute said.

Shoppers News4JAX spoke with said they think Florida is handling the pandemic better than other states -- and that might be why we’re not seeing more painful supply shortages as in other areas.

The shortages are widespread, impacting produce and meat as well as packaged goods like cereal. And they’re being reported nationwide.

U.S. groceries typically have 5% to 10% of their items out of stock at any given time. According to the Consumer Brands Association, the unavailability rate is hovering around 15%.

Southeastern Grocers also sent us a statement, which reads in part: “Our well-experienced supply chain team is updating our stocking plans throughout each day to ensure that popular products are on the shelf.”

And Publix says: “The supermarket supply chain is under a lot of stress. We continue to maintain constant communication with our suppliers, however, various product lines may be out of stock.”


About the Authors:

At WJXT for a quarter of a century, Mary Baer anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news weekdays.