Pandemic Pallets & Super Market Stockpiling

 

The US food industry is emergency prepping and we need to pay attention

With a second wave of coronavirus potentially upon us, one question is gripping the preparedness community: could grocery store shelves empty out again like they did last spring?

If recent revelations from the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and others are right, there may be some cause for concern. Reports have uncovered that many of the largest grocers and food manufacturers in the country indeed think store shelves could empty again—so much so, they’re staking millions of dollars on it.

“In a first-time situation like this pandemic, there’s a lot of questions we can’t answer,” said TJ McIntyre, CEO of Bobo’s, a national snack manufacturer. “If we ran out of oats, we’d be in trouble.”

McIntyre isn’t alone. From the creation of pandemic pallets to stockpiling months of supplies, we’re going to take a look at what the largest food companies in the US are doing right now to get ready for a second wave of panic buying, and what it tells us about the likelihood that food could run out again.

Here’s What We Know

Scared Grocery Executive

According to reports, many of America’s major grocers are spooked. Just a few examples of how this is playing out include:

Giant and Food Lion grocery chains, one of the largest in America, said they will be stocking 10 to 15 percent more inventory across the board for fears of panic shopping.

The CEO of the Hy Vee grocery chain, with 240 stores in the Midwest, is stockpiling cleaning, paper, and sanitizing items.

Southeastern grocers (parent company of BI-LO, Harveys, Winn-Dixie, and Fresco y Más), in anticipation of a possible second COVID wave, started stocking up on holiday foods months earlier than usual—especially Thanksgiving turkeys and holiday hams.

United Natural Foods, America’s largest publicly traded wholesale healthy food distributor, is back-stocking extra cold remedies and herbal teas in anticipation of an extra-large rush on those products during cold and flu season.

Food companies are also making major investments to build up extra supplies:

Campbells Soup Company is stocking up on extras of its soup brands as well as snacks like goldfish crackers and potato chips.

Associate Foods Stores, a cooperative that supplies over 500 retail supermarkets in the American West, has reported putting together “pandemic pallets”—warehouse pallets stocked with extra cleaning and sanitizing products to make sure they’re on hand if and when another panic buying episode grips the US.

Hormel Foods Corporation, owner of brands like Skippy, Dinty Moore, and Jennie-O, is stockpiling “core center store items” like bacon, pepperoni, SPAM.

World foods giant Saffron Road, known for pre-made Eastern cuisines, has increased their inventory purchases by 50%.

Could it happen again?

With much of the country feeling less worried these days about the dangers of the coronavirus, are the major players in American food being overly cautious, or is there really a risk?

Conditions Are Ripe for Further Waves

Second Wave of Covid-19

Talk in the media about the second wave of the coronavirus are everywhere—and have been for months. Every community in America remains at high risk for COVID. As attitudes and restrictions are loosening, the virus is spiking in nearly half the states in the US.

“We’re not in a good place,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, “There are states that are starting to show an uptick in cases…we very well might start seeing increasing deaths.”

And health officials are worried things are going to get worse.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, an influential voice in American public health modeling, has recently laid out a scenario of 415,000 COVID deaths by January with a worse-case of 600,000.

"When we look ahead into the winter with seasonality kicking in, people becoming clearly less vigilant, you know mask use is down, mobility is up in the nation, you put all those together and we look like we're going to have a very deadly December ahead of us in terms of toll of coronavirus," said IHME director Dr. Christopher Murray.

We’re still recovering from the last panic buy, and that weakens the food industry

We’ve heard dire virus predictions before that never fully materialized, so the state of COVID might not be the only thing driving concern among grocers. A mix of market conditions could help enflame public panic as well.

Demand is still up. For starters, with COVID, demand for groceries is higher than its been in a long time—most Americans are eating at home more. That wouldn’t put a significant strain on grocers under normal circumstances, but if panic buying were to happen again, the strain of demand would be much harder to bear. That could put producers and retailers in an even tougher position than last spring.

Sold Out Cleaning Supplies

Shortages are ongoing. Add to that the fact that some segments of the market are still recovering from the last panic buy. Cleaning product shortages, for example, are still ongoing. Paper towels often sell out as soon as they appear at Amazon, Costco, or local grocers. And that’s to say nothing of disinfecting wipes. Clorox, who produces 45% of the disinfectant wipes in the US, reports that their shortage will go on well into 2021.

The market is no shape for another run, and the folks at the top know it.

The food supply chain is still vulnerable—and has been for a long time

Remember back in the spring when demand for food from restaurants and schools completely dried up? Farmers had to leave crops rotting in the fields while grocery stores sold out of food.

The problem was a mismatch in supply and demand. If the farmers can’t get food to the right places, they may as well not have it.

This was a well-known weakness in the food supply chain that long pre-dates 2020, but was exposed by the coronavirus. And while the problem may have died down by now, the underlying weakness that caused it remains. It showed food industry leaders that in panic buying scenario, there is no guarantee raw foods can be processed and get to market.

Prepare for the Worse & Be Ready for Anything

We don’t know what the future holds. With increased adoption of mask wearing and social distancing, there’s every chance this winter will be far easier than some experts predict.

Then again, things could get bad. Only time will tell.

Regardless what happens, your best bet is to play it safe. If you’re able, stock up for the winter with plenty of food, water, and cleaning supplies. Now’s the time!

We’ve said it a thousand times, and we’ll say it a thousand more: prepare for the worst and you’ll be ready for anything.

Covid-19

18 comments

Janette

Janette

Living in Hawaii we are in isolation in a way the continental us is not. Everything here is shipped in on barges or flown in on planes. If we don’t have something in the islands ,we can’t just drive to another area and get it. So most of Hawaiian residents are well aware and well prepared for any interruption in the food and supply chain. I see another round of empty shelves on the way weather it is twin viruses, hurricanes, or civil unrest. We should all be prepared with non parishable foods and paper products, and water. We will come through this in the end, it’s a matter of how you want to go through it

Grandpa

Grandpa

There will not be a second wave, the first wave never stopped, we only flattened the curve.
Also remember other countries that collapsed, their collapse is still going on ten to twenty years later. 😖
Think long term .

EEP

EEP

Nobody can predict the future but just observing what has been occurring the past year should prompt you to take some precautions for your families and loved ones.
A pretty sad fact that crops rot in the fields because they were destined for shuttered restaurants and not prepared for store shelves. Would be a great thing if we had greatly increased capacity to freeze dry this excess crop and store in the long term methods for troubling times. So much more beneficial than much of the waste that currently occurs in government spending.
Believe it or not, the beginning of sorrows is upon us.. What are you planning to do?

Helen Williams

Helen Williams

Please encourage everyone you know to be prepared. As so many have mentioned it doesn’t matter who wins we are in for a very bumpy ride. The scary thing for me is that the people I care about won’t be prepared. I encourage them all the time to be more and more prepared. May everyone you know be also.

Louise

Louise

It’s always best to be prepared!! Coming from Maine we are always prepared for hurricanes, snow storms, nor’ easters, ice storms, lost electricity etc etc etc!!
The Pandemic was a good test to see the holes in my preparedness! It was definitely the cleaning supplies, masks, gloves etc! I’ll never be low on those again!
Being prepared or over prepared gives one a sense of peace and the ability to help others.
I want to be in the position to be able to help and not to have to ask for help. 😊

Louise

Louise

It’s always best to be prepared!! Coming from Maine we are always prepared for hurricanes, snow storms, nor’ easters, ice storms, lost electricity etc etc etc!!
The Pandemic was a good test to see the holes in my preparedness! It was definitely the cleaning supplies, masks, gloves etc! I’ll never be low on those again!
Being prepared or over prepared gives one a sense of peace and the ability to help others.
I want to be in the position to be able to help and not to have to ask for help. 😊

Paul

Paul

I believe no matter the election result, we will see the same chaos going on, maybe worse. If Trump wins the T haters will go insane and riots, looting, violence will probably triple. Very bad. If Biden wins, we will see zero enforcement of the laws, no accountability, and looting, riots, “peaceful” protests, etc. will continue and most likely increase in intensity. In a Biden administration the economy and general health of the country will spiral, adding to more protest and chaos. Either way I seriously believe we are in for a rocky ride. So much so that for the first time in my life I have actually stock piled food, necessities, etc. and bought several 30 day meal buckets.

Chris

Chris

BEEN stocking up after giving most of my EE stores to our sons before moving 1200 miles. Of course, thought we’d have more time. Buy what you can, where you can. Don’t worry about looking strange or like you are panic buying. We ARE panic buying. My household will have what it needs when we need it. I pray yours does as well.

TIRED

TIRED

Thank you to Emergency Essentials- we sent two containers to lake Charles. We wish we had sent more.

Amy W

Amy W

Completely agree Marybeth. I think no matter who is elected there will be unrest and this cause a distribution issue. And I worry about regular winter colds/flu and potential second wave of covid. It always makes you feel better knowing you have preps and can make it through without having to go to the store. I had the fore-site in in Feb to stock up on extra gloves, masks, cleaning supplies and cold medicine thankfully. I suggest if you don’t have those things, go buy some to keep on hand.

Hamradio

Hamradio

We keep our pantry stocked from emergency essentials, including our Casita travel trailer in case of wildfire evacuation. We now stock wheat berries, mill our own whole wheat flour, bake ALL bread/pastry products. Bulk stock flour we cannot make at home. Large 12-month/year garden, green house provide nearly all our vegetable needs. Emergency communications provided by all family members amateur radio licensed (ARRL.ORG) covers us when cell/landlines go down too often. Most important supplier? Emergency essentials!

Kenneth J Knox

Kenneth J Knox

These kinds of panic-producing articles are total SPECULATION! There’s also the possibility that there will NOT be a second wave. I view this as a political article similar to telling children that they MAY be killed in an auto accident, or abducted, or catch a disease in school — and while such horrible things have always happened in our country for the VAST majority it never happens, yet it instills FEAR. Shame!!

dmwalsh568

dmwalsh568

All of the efficiencies that corporate America have been touting over the past few decades by running “lean and mean” meant that the system had very little surge capacity. So when demand suddenly spiked for some items and fell off for others there was disruption in the supply chain. And with just in time systems for manufacturers, wholesalers and retail outlets that meant that disruptions caused shortages almost immediately.
Understanding the potential for disruptions was a major factor in my prepping, and why I have both long term food supplies (freeze dried #10 cans of food and flavorings) as well as what I consider mid-term supplies with a can rotation system filled with cans of soup, veggies, beans, tuna, etc. This has let me buy what I can and not worry about low or missing inventory in stores. And if things get worse, I can just shelter in place and live off my supplies for a few months if necessary.
Having food stocks that are shelf stable has been a great comfort and let me stay away from any panic buyers….if a store looks too busy, I can just walk away knowing that my family has what we need. Thanks for having the products we need to keep our families safe in these uncertain times!

David Beasley

David Beasley

Are we about to see Covid-19 version 2.0 ?

Frank J Sorrenti Sr

Frank J Sorrenti Sr

The election is going to play a big factor in the Panic buying of a lot of people..
Our country has never as divided as it is , since the war between the states..
We all must be prepared for the worse and PRAY for nothing to happen..

Gary

Gary

The Real problem will be civil and rest after the election guaranteed

Fr. Bob

Fr. Bob

I have noticed shortages of paper towels, Lysol and Chlorox products, and canned meats. The amount of Milk seems to be steady but less than a year ago, with only a few gallons on the shelves. Canning supplies are non-existant in stores where I live, and there seems to be less fresh fruit. A lot of times I buy one of the last packages or cans of a certain item that is on the shelves, so I expect there will be periodic significant shortages of food.

Marybeth Trilling

Marybeth Trilling

I think it’s extremely likely. If the flu and Covid do indeed strike at the same time, coupled with the contentious political situation (I anticipate unrest no matter who is elected with our country so divided ), it makes sense to prepare as much as possible now.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published