Ever since the pandemic became part our lives, nothing has been the same. We’re mostly stuck at home, looking for new things to do and most importantly – eating. We eat, eat, and eat some more, and yet, some of our most valuable food is slowly running out without us even realizing it. We need to get ready for temporary goodbyes, so here are 10 Upcoming Food Shortages You NEED To Know About in 2021 (Part 2).
For a lot of people, a meal isn’t complete without a can of their favorite soda. It is, after all, very refreshing and bubbly and it goes perfectly with just about anything. However, in light of recent pandemic-related issues, chances are, you might not come across soda cans as easily as you used to. This is mostly due to the demand for aluminum cans that has out paced the supply. Since many restaurants have closed, most sodas now have to be packed up in aluminum cans, meaning companies are running out of material to make those cans. But, if only that was the sole issue. More trouble may lie ahead: the lack of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is used to give soda its best feature: the bubbles. Co2 is a by-product of the production of ethanol, which is used to make engine fuel. Therefore, carbon dioxide is sold by ethanol producers. The problem is that since people across the country abruptly stopped driving as much as usual, the demand for the fuel plummeted, resulting in a cut in production. In fact, 34 out of the 45 ethanol plants in the United States that sell carbon dioxide has cut production or been idle since the beginning of the pandemic. As long as the situation isn’t under control, shortages will continue, and soda will become more scarce. With a carbon dioxide supply so tight, soda manufacturers will have to make do with what little they have left. You might still come across your regular can of Coca-Cola, but it might be harder to come across the fancier, less popular brands.
As we put 2020 behind us, things seem to be getting somewhat back to normal, slowly but surely. Grocery store shelves are starting to fill themselves up again, but there’s one very important and very dear item from the produce section that has had a harder time making a comeback: oranges. In December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that orange production for the entire country was down almost 12% for the year. Even in Florida, a state known for its blooming orange industry, production was down 16.8%, and the low numbers continue to worry industry experts. According to the Atlantic coast, the reason why production has been down is mostly because a lot of growers didn’t have the money to put into their crops this season due to a lack of revenue. But that’s not the only reason. Ever since 2005, Florida oranges have been suffering from a bacterial disease called “Greening” that infects the trees and causes the fruit to be smaller. Since some growers haven’t planted new citrus trees recently, there are fewer trees available for harvesting. It can take up to 15 years for a seed-grown tree to start producing, which can means, expect smaller harvests to last through 2021. Considering that more than 90 percent of America’s orange juice is made from Florida oranges, the fruit might not be the only thing going missing from our shelves.
We can all agree that the grocery shopping panic craze of 2020 made us realize just how important it is to stock up on essentials before it’s too late. Products like flour, meat, and even toilet paper were the first to go and were practically impossible to find for a while. However, another shortage happened with an item we usually take for granted, pasta. Dry pasta was one of the first grocery items to see a huge jump in demand, and the shelves were quickly emptied by people stocking up on just about any shape they could find. It didn’t matter what type it was; if it was pasta, it was gone. In order to restock the shelves properly, pasta producers had to increase their output by roughly 30%. So, while the more popular spaghetti and elbow macaroni were safe, that wasn’t the case for every shape. In order to keep the “valuable shapes” intact, they needed to put a stop to the production of the less popular and more complicated pasta types to produce. This includes the beloved bucatini. The bucatini – a thicker, hollowed spaghetti – might not be the most popular pasta, but it has its fair share of fans online, who started to notice that their favorite pasta wasn’t coming back. This has happened with other kinds of pasta as well. So if you find yourself going in circles in the pasta aisle, looking for your cherished favorite, prepare yourself for the possibility of disappointment!
7. Some Ready-To-Eat Foods
With a slowed lifestyle and lack of a daily routine, most people have inevitably become a little bit lazier when it comes to cooking. And what do you do when you don’t feel like cooking? You turn to food that’s already made. From frozen pizza to boxed mac & cheese, everything is being emptied out faster than usual. You might remember the brief yet alarming Amy’s Kitchen pizza shortage. The beloved Roasted Vegetable Pizza quietly vanished from store freezers for a short period, and everybody went nuts! But, it wasn’t the only product from the brand that went missing. Amy’s Kitchen had to reduce its offerings from 228 to just 71 products during the pandemic, just to ensure it would still be in business. A lot of manufacturers are beginning to cut back on certain products, and sometimes, permanently. This is not only to reduce production costs but also to make the distribution network more efficient. High demand products like instant ramen also became quite the rare sighting in some cities. Thankfully, most companies seem to be getting back on their feet as the situation starts to improve. Easy-to-make meals have basically become the new normal for a lot of people – frozen pizza isn’t just for college students anymore. So it only makes sense that getting your hands on some would become a little harder.
Speaking of affordable, shelf-stable foods, rice is practically the most reliable and effective item you can get. You can make countless recipes with rice as the main event, like fried rice or even sushi, and it goes with just about any meal. Since rice is an essential part of many people’s daily diet, when the pandemic hit, the demand for it increased. And sadly, so did the cost. The higher the cost, the less likely you’ll be to find it fully stocked on store shelves. The agriculture industry was heavily affected by lockdown measures, and many rice farmers had difficulty planting as much as before. The higher demand and the labor shortages also didn’t help the matter. Two of the top rice exporters, India and Vietnam, both faced some disruptions due to the outbreak, which forced the price to rise to an all-time high. Back at the beginning of the pandemic, rice prices hit a 7-year high and were at the highest they had ever been since April of 2013. In India, rice traders have even stopped signing new export contracts. The price of rice had already been kind of high for a while due to a severe drought in Thailand back in 2019. And since Thailand is the world’s second-largest exporter, it had a huge impact.
5. Canned And Frozen Vegetables
In general, we tend to prioritize buying fresh produce to use as ingredients when cooking in our daily lives. A lot of people even often go to the grocery store every day to ensure everything is as fresh as possible. However, with the arrival of the pandemic and the various lockdowns put in place, many people didn’t have that luxury anymore. People needed to limit their comings and goings, thus, the usefulness of canned and frozen vegetables. As much as they used to be overlooked, today, they’ve become a little harder to find at your local market. People have now turned to canned vegetables or even frozen to use in their home cooking, which happens quite more often than it did before. An increase in cooking meals at home also means an increase in demand, which most companies weren’t completely ready for. Plus, manufacturers are still impacted by shortages of metal food cans, so cans, in general, can become a rare sighting. The problem with a product that’s grown seasonally and harvested once a year is that once the supply is gone, you can’t simply produce more of it, which creates shortages. Thankfully though, the availability of some products may be spotty this year, but brand variety will probably make up for it. Meaning, you might not get the brands you want, but at least you’ll get something!
4. Pet Food
We might be experiencing shortages with some of our everyday products, but it turns out we’re not the only ones affected. Our little furry friends also had some trouble finding certain foods, especially those who require a very special diet. Back in December, there was a widespread shortage in the supply chain of specialty pet food. Big brands started writing letters to their customers saying they were having issues, mostly revolving around the labor and ingredient supply. With a lot of people being forced to work from home or simply not able to show up at the factory, fewer products are being made, which slows down the whole process. The other issue concerns the availability of the ingredients. Non-essential travel was not allowed in many countries and is still somewhat slowed down, meaning there are some key elements missing from the pet food formulas. Diet pet food, specifically, is very complicated to produce and a lot of special ingredients go into them cannot always be bought on demand. The formulation is very tightly regulated by each company, so they have to make sure that everything is in order. It seems as though the problem is slowly getting under control again, but there was a time when owners were really scared for their little buddies.
Since vegetables have been harder to find and less available to buy on a regular basis, and even the canned ones have had its issues, a lot of people turned to more drastic measures: they decided to plant gardens of their own! People started to realize that gardening was the perfect hobby in pandemic times and the perfect way to sustain themselves. It’s done at home, outdoors, and it’s a great way to keep busy and engage the kids. There are even studies that show that gardening is therapeutic and can relieve stress and anxiety. But since a lot of people had the same idea, it means a lot of people needed supplies. You know where this is going, right? A shortage! Vegetable seed sellers experienced skyrocketing demand as concerns over potential food shortages grew. The seed business exploded, and many gardening centers saw their business grow by as much as 50%. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, a Missouri-based seed retailer, had to close its website for a brief period in January just to catch up on orders, which were five times higher than the year before. It also experienced some significant delays in shipping, which could take up to 30 days in the U.S. Of course, you always have the option of planting your own vegetable garden by using the vegetables you already have at home – like onions or even bell peppers. There haven’t been any official seed shortages yet, but some seed companies are already starting to report issues, and if the demand doesn’t slow down, we might be out of garden seeds soon enough.
2. Cleaning Supplies
Okay, not technically a food product, but an essential grocery store purchase nonetheless. Cleaning, in general, is important. You do a little bit every day and try to keep things neat and tidy. But, your definition of “clean” might not be the same if you spend all of your time at home. Most people have changed their standards due to the current situation and have begun cleaning more than they normally would. And, what do you need when you clean? Cleaning supplies. You probably all remember when hand sanitizer had completely disappeared from store shelves at the beginning of the pandemic. Turns out, it wasn’t the only thing that went missing. A lot of household cleaners began to run out, and disinfectant wipes were completely sold out. Shelves that used to be stocked on the daily were now almost always bare. Cleaning and disinfecting — especially high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs and light switches in public spaces became imperative and needed to be done frequently, which undoubtedly increased sales. Clorox, for example, said the demand for their cleaning products rose by 500% after the pandemic began. Other major brands, including Lysol, have watched demand grow exponentially and are expected to be able to meet the demand for cleaning and disinfecting products in 2021.
1. Basically Everything
From fruits to your favorite kind of soda, this last year has been difficult in terms of product availability. Whether it’s because of labor problems or simply higher demand, a lot of things have gone missing from our store shelves. However, even if a company is still running on all cylinders now, it doesn’t mean it’s out of the woods just yet. A shipping crisis can’t always be predicted, and it’s exactly what’s happening right now. Thailand can’t ship its rice, Canada is stuck with peas, and India can’t offload its mountain of sugar. Why? Because a lot of containers are being shipped back empty, which means that food is piling up in all the wrong places. The cost of carrying goods from China to the U.S. is almost 10 times higher than the opposite journey, prompting liners to favor empty boxes instead of loading them. Some shipments have even been suspended, meaning a lot of products won’t reach their destinations for a very long time. Soybeans, coffee beans, and even sugar have all suffered from the shipping container crisis, and it’s definitely not about to be resolved anytime soon.