Grocery supply mostly returning to normal


March 25, 2021

When the pandemic began last year, many staples like flour, beans and toilet paper went missing from grocery store shelves. While grocery supply has mostly stabilized, local grocery managers are still seeing shifting inventory, price fluctuations and random products out of stock.

“Each week there’s a surprise,” Olerud’s Market Center Sarah Swinton said earlier this month. “For a while there was no ricotta cheese. I thought, okay I’ll try to overcompensate and then I got all three brands at once. Ricotta’s coming in strong.”

At Howsers IGA, store manager Kevin Shove said dog and cat food, gravy packets, garbage bags and paper plates were either in short supply or totally out at their warehouse earlier this month.

Since the pandemic started, the store has had difficulty ordering or been unable to order cleaning supplies, Lysol spray and canning jars.

“Spam is nonexistent,” Shove said. “We got two cases in a year.”

Shove said he thinks since the pandemic began, manufacturers are changing the variety and allocation of products.

“The combination of the pandemic and the huge transition of suppliers has been quite the challenge to keep the store full,” Shove said. “We have utilized other suppliers like Foodservice to fill in the gaps at times.”

Mountain Market co-owner Mary Jean Sebens also said some products are randomly unavailable for several weeks before arriving.

“As for our kitchen, we have seen significant (price) increases in dairy and meat products - almost 50 percent on some,” Sebens said. “Food handler’s gloves, which we use every day, have increased by more than 200 percent. Some of these items are starting to come down but it has been a lot of price fluctuation to absorb during this crazy time.”

The pandemic hasn’t been the only thing causing supply interruptions. The winter storm that hit Texas earlier this month impacted plastic manufacturing.

“The stuff they use to make plastic milk jugs has a shortage,” Swinton said. “Until May. I’m not going to get any plastic half gallons and gallons of fat free and one percent.”


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