Apr 14, 2020 - Economy

Stresses on food supply chains are causing empty supermarket shelves

Empty grocery shelves

Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images

While industry giants reassure shoppers there is enough food during the coronavirus pandemic, people continue to be met with empty supermarket shelves due to stresses on established supply chains, the Washington Post reports.

The state of play: With restaurants closed, distributors are struggling to retool their product from bulk supply for restaurants and industrial-scale operations to smaller, consumer-focused packaging as Americans cook from home.

  • Food facilities are also having to combat coronavirus outbreaks of their own. JBA SA, the world's top meat company, had to close a beef facility in Colorado, and Smithfield Foods did the same at a pork processing plant in South Dakota.

The big picture: The supply chain demands aren't limited to food. The Post notes that hair dye is an increasingly popular product this week as people miss scheduled salon appointments.

The bottom line: "The stress on the production system is everywhere. We can’t hire more people to build up our lines. We have certain limitations, and all of the infrastructure is under stress, from the fisherman to the clerk putting cans on the shelf," Sean Wittenberg, the president of Safe Catch, which specializes in packaged fish, told the Post.

Go deeper