Food shortages are here, but that doesn’t mean every aisle at your grocery store will be cleaned out permanently.
Instead, shortages will mostly be temporary, regional events that drag on for weeks at a time (or longer).
The best way to prepare is to start responsibly stocking up today. We recommend wisely gathering:
- Foods you eat frequently
- Foods that could disappear
- Foods that could get extra expensive in the coming months
10 Foods at Risk of Running Out
As of this writing, the USDA is reassuring us that there are currently no national food shortages.
However, they also state that “in some cases inventory of certain foods at your grocery store might temporarily be low.”
Don’t be misled—this isn’t good news. It’s a euphemistic way of saying that for now, food shortages are regional rather than national.
That means you’ll have to research to find out which foods are at risk of running out in your community. To do that, we recommend:
- Getting online to do your own Internet sleuthing
- Asking the managers and workers at your neighborhood grocery store what they’re hearing
- Keeping an eye on the 10 foods below which are already reportedly at risk
1. CANNED GOODS
Aluminum shortages could threaten supplies of all canned foods.
This old prepper staple might be harder to find in the coming months. And it’s not the food that’s a worry—it’s the cans themselves. Between surging demand and troubling magnesium shortages (used in aluminum production), manufactures are worried that production will soon fall short.
“Aluminum availability is still a concern,” said Oklahoma State University food economist Rodney Holcomb. “It may be more difficult to find those canned, ready-to-eat items on store shelves."
With demand up, industry experts urge shoppers to buy smaller turkeys early.
This shortage comes with a caveat: not all turkeys will be in short supply. Just the most popular ones.
"We do see that if there is a big shift towards people wanting to celebrate in smaller groups, that smaller turkeys may be harder to come by," warned Rebeca Welch of Butterball.
That means unless you want to wrestle a 20-pound bird this Thanksgiving, experts suggest you order small turkeys early.
Beef prices are skyrocketing, and with food supply chain troubles ongoing, some regions could experience temporary shortages.
Here’s the good news: we shouldn’t see any more 2020-style meatpacking plant shutdowns from COVID restrictions.
However, the beef industry has had its share of troubles in the last year, not the least of which was a massive ransomware attack on the world’s largest beef producer. That single event halted 23 percent of the United States’ beef-production, and the supply chain is still recovering.
Expect to see regional beef shortages and sky-high prices everywhere else. Stock up while you can!
A combination of demand and anti-confinement law in CA could trigger pork and bacon shortages.
Despite reports of bacon shortages, most Americans can still find it in grocery stores (albeit it at painfully high prices).
That may all be coming to an end, though. With an anti-confinement law on the horizon in California, some are warning that shortages could be just around the corner.
Chicken shortages have remained ongoing since the spring, with chicken wings currently at high risk of disappearing from grocery store shelves.
Chicken shortages have been reported since spring, but the problems are persisting due to increased consumer demand and a shrinking labor force.
Chicken wings are in especially short supply. Market watchdog Urner Barry reported just days ago that inventory is at its lowest level in nearly a decade.
6. PET FOOD
Hungry pets? Labor shortages and holiday shopping surges could threaten food supplies for dogs and cats.
Like chicken, pet food has been tough to find in some areas for a while now.
As reported by petfoodindustry.com:
“While surging consumer demand for all types of goods, including pet food, drove initial delays and scarcities in the early days of pandemic, now labor shortages, other COVID-19-related disruptions and holiday-buying surges are the main culprits behind the backup, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California…”
7. CANNED PUMPKIN
Canned pumpkin has been hit with three problems that are threatening supplies: a surge in holiday demand, aluminum can shortages, and conditions that have killed pumpkin crops all over the country.
Yes, aluminum is in short supply, so all canned foods are at risk of running low. But between now and 2022, canned pumpkin is especially vulnerable to shortages.
The reason is just pure bad luck in the form of a ravaging fungus that has wiped out pumpkin crops across major production states like Illinois. And in California, the drought has been especially hard on pumpkins.
"This year is the hardest I’ve seen for Californian-grown pumpkins," said Lyra Marble, a pumpkin patch owner in Culver City, California.
8. PASTA/PASTA SAUCE
Supplies of certain pastas are running low, but of greater concern is the vulnerability of pasta sauce supplies which are threatened by glass jar shortages.
Pasta maker Barilla recently revealed that a surge in demand is threatening their “bucatini” production: that thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole in the middle. Pasta producer De Cecco has also reported bucatini shortages, though for different reasons.
According to a company spokesperson, “De Cecco bucatini was placed on import alert because it was misbranded as it failed to meet the required standard of identity. Specifically, the iron level in De Cecco bucatini was below the designated level as required by the standard of enriched macaroni."
Of greater concern is the possible demise of pasta sauce in what remains of 2021. Like so many consumer goods, massive quantities of glass jars bound for America are currently tied up in bottle-necked shipping lanes. For now, the backup is just driving up prices. If it continues, though, your favorite marinaras and Alfredos could disappear from shelves.
9. JUICE BOXES AND LUNCHABLES
Back-to-school demand has weakened supplies of juice boxes and Lunchables. How quickly these products recover remains in question.
These lunch-time staples are both at risk right now, which is sad, considering schools all over the country are reporting epic food shortages.
What’s a kid to do?
The problem may simply be one of spiking demand. According to Kraft Heinz Foods, “Compared to 2019 nearly 2 million more households bought Kraft Heinz brands in the second quarter of 2021...As such, Lunchables is seeing double-digit growth for the first time in 5 years."
For perhaps the same reasons, folks on Twitter and Reddit are reporting juice box shortages at grocery stores.
10. WATER BOTTLES
We may not be out of the woods yet with water supplies at grocery stores. Costco recently put purchase limits on their bottled water inventory.
Water bottle shortages have been ongoing in the news since summer, and with recent purchase limits at Costco, concerns are still running high. We saw plenty of water bottle panic shopping in the opening months of the pandemic, and it’s not a huge stretch to imagine it could happen again.