Potatoes and Baby Formula Are Latest Shortage Amid Supply Chain Issues

by Michael Freeman
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The pandemic is hitting many industries hard, especially with the Omicron variant running rampant. Among the labor and grocery shortages, it seems potatoes and baby formula are the latest products you’ll have trouble finding.

The Sun reported the issue, saying it’s a worldwide shortage. For example, McDonald’s locations in Japan stopped selling large and medium-size french fry orders. Similar issues are cropping up within Canada, South Africa, and the United States. Additionally, baby formula brands such as Enfamil, Similac, and Gerber have their own shortage problems to deal with.

A part of the potato issues has to deal with them dropping in demand last year. The United States serves as one of the world’s top potato manufacturers but because demand was so low, farmers destroyed millions of vegetables due to a surplus. Compounding the issue is the recent inclement weather we’ve endured, as well as staffing issues.

Regarding baby formula, Walmart and CVS both complain manufacturers are having supply issues. Meanwhile, the formula companies are upset retailers aren’t getting their products, despite them sending the baby formula out for delivery. Robert Ranking, executive director of Infant Nutrition Council of America, spoke to The Wall Street Journal about the issue, saying there isn’t a shortage on their end.

The group’s spokeswoman also provided a statement to the outlet. “Broadly, there are reports of challenges across retail supply chains, from transportation and logistics to some anecdotal evidence suggesting pantry-loading behaviors, which can put increased pressure on in-store inventory.”

Overall, given that weather and staff issues seem to be the biggest component in shortages, it’s fair to expect them with other products too.

How Bad Are the Food Shortage and Supply Chain Issues?

We’ve been hearing about labor, food, and supply chain shortages for weeks now. A quick trip to the grocery store will have quite a few empty shelves and services like Instacart frequently can’t buy the products you request. So, just how bad are these issues for manufacturers and suppliers?

Reuters reports farmers along the west coast are paying nearly triple what they used to for trucking. To make ends meet, many have waited for prices to go down, but that’s led to spoiled produce. Shay Myers, CEO of Owyhee Produce, said he’s seen the biggest price hike in the past three weeks due to the recent snowstorms coupled with fewer truck drivers. The storms alongside the East Coast left many drivers gridlocked for days.

“We typically will ship, East Coast to West Coast – we used to do it for about $7,000,” Myers said. “Today it’s somewhere between $18,000 and $22,000.”

Sadly, it doesn’t look like these issues are going to let up anytime soon. Experts speculate this trend will continue for at least a few more weeks. Labor shortages and the Omicron variant aren’t helping, leading to many retailers not having stock on items like eggs, bread, and health products.

In short, demand is rising greatly, while supplies are dwindling.