Grocery Stores Empty Shelves: Why Grocery Stores Shelves Are Empty Again?

In various ways, it has started to look like just the beginning of the pandemic. The new crazy Omicron variant of coronavirus is reinitiating all the old debates about closures of schools and businesses.

The queues for testing are longer than ever, stretching for blocks. The NBA’s first public case of COVID-19 back in 2020 named Ruby Gobert has tested positive just last week.

And once again, the shelves of the supermarkets across numerous places are appearing increasingly empty.

Grocery stores, supermarkets, and food supply chains have been on their toes to keep all the products in stock for the consumers throughout the pandemic. But now, the onset of yet another variant of this infectious virus has made it almost impossible.

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In the grocery stores, the spread of the virus among the staff is worsening the already-existing shortages of labor. The shortage of labor resulted from the Great Resignation (many people, many workers across the country have handed in their notices). 

The Outbreak Among the Employees

According to Bloomberg reports, the cases have multiplied exponentially among the staff of a leading grocery chain and supplier located in the Midwest named SpartanNash. At least 1% of its 18,000 employees have been tested positive during the last few weeks.

The company still managed to complete the orders with some delays and several employees working beyond their designated hours.

Omicron variant has not just impacted the workforce directly by infecting them; some secondary effects have been observed on the industrial labor. Many parents working in grocery stores have to stay home due to the mass level closure of schools and daycares.

Some workers have decided to quit their jobs as they believe it is just not worth the risk of exposure to the new variant.

grocery stores empty shelves
grocery stores empty shelves

Shortages of Items in Stores

The consumers and regular buyers are struggling to get the desired products due to such shortages of staff in different food supply chains they usually visit. So either they have to look for other brands or leave empty-handed. 

The Meat Plants Inspectors

There has been an outbreak of infections among the meat plants inspectors. According to federal law, inspectors must approve the meat products before their commercial sale.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is constantly trying to send inspectors to cover for the lack of staff. Meatpacking workers, particularly those who have not been urged to get their booster shots, have gotten infected.

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Slaughterhouses have to, unfortunately, work on lower capacity due to a shortage of crew. All these supply chain issues, increasing demand, and inflation may increase meat prices.

Measures Planned to Be Taken

The Biden administration is working on various measures in response to all the problems stemming from the widespread of Omicron and in an attempt to make food supply chains more sustaining and resilient against such hiccups in the future.

The administration announced that $ 1 billion in American Rescue Plan funds would be dedicated to expanding the meat processing capabilities. The aim is to ensure that the U.S. does not rely on merely a small number of leading meat plants that can impact the supply chains if there is a shortage of staff. 

Many of these measures are not going to be initiated until spring or summer. The White House supply chain task force is working hard to fix the issues that have been affecting the transportation of food and other goods.

However, despite all the efforts and measures, many grocery stores are visibly facing a shortage of products at the moment. We hope for better days, and soon we will emerge from all these difficulties.

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