“It’s not as dramatic as last Sunday, but there are still a lot of empty shelves,” laments Justin Toone, a regular supermarket customer. The pandemic continues to affect supply chains, and many supermarkets in the United States face product shortages.
“For several days in a row, there were no fruits or vegetables at this Giant (of Bethesda), nor at the other supermarkets in the industry, Trader Joe’s and Safeway,” says Toone.
In other stores, honey, eggs, milk and meat disappeared from shelves. In Washington and the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia, snow has exacerbated this recurring shortage problem since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There aren’t enough truckers and because they are subject to strict regulations regarding working and resting hours, they say ‘let’s stop’, well they stop and they don’t fill us up,” explains an employee at Giant supermarket in Bethesda who asked to not be identified.
When snow falls, it’s even worse.
At the beginning of the pandemic, for fear of shortages, there was an avalanche of demand for some products such as toilet paper, which generated shortages.
“This time is different,” the official said.
“The omicron variant is so contagious that it has an almost simultaneous impact in the United States,” emphasizes Patrick Penfield of Syracuse University.
Many employees in the food production chain are sick or in quarantine, completely disrupting the supply chain.
The phenomenon is widespread across the country, but is more significant in regions that also face severe weather conditions, such as Washington.
And in the case of fresh and easily perishable products, it is impossible to store them too far in advance, in anticipation of bad weather.
Hence the completely empty shelves on Sunday, following the snow that fell overnight from Thursday to Friday. For the professor, the food shortage should last until the end of March.
That is, “if everything goes back to normal and there is no new variant,” he says cautiously.
The National Trade Federation (NGA), which brings together independent members of the food retail sector, also mentions that the labor shortage continues “at the national level, putting pressure on essential industries such as supermarkets and industrial food in general”.
In a recent survey of its 1,500 associates, several of them “reported operating their stores at less than 50% of their normal working capacity, for short periods, at the height of the wave” of contamination.
In addition, the federation warns consumers that they should still expect “sporadic interruptions”, as has been the case for a year and a half.
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