More food shortages are coming but PLEASE do not panic

We beg you, for the love of canned goods, no stockpiling.

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Woman looking at empty grocery store shelves
Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe (Getty Images)

Listen to me: You don’t need to stockpile your groceries. Okay? Give me a nod to make sure you understand that before moving on to the next sentence. When you’re ready, here is that sentence: the upcoming holiday season may usher in some more grocery shortages similar to the ones we saw last year. Don’t move! Hear me out.

TODAY recently reported on the potential shortages, which Maria Brous, director of communications for Publix, says are difficult to predict. “The industry continues to face shortages during the pandemic, and those shortages on product and packaging may vary week to week,” Brous told TODAY. “In some instances, suppliers have discontinued multiple varieties to concentrate on their best selling items to meet demand.” Despite the unpredictability of the industry, TODAY consulted several other experts who foresaw some potentially strained grocery items.

Canned goods

Rodney Holcomb, a food economist at Oklahoma State University, told TODAY in an email that we can expect to see a shortage of canned foods—but the issue lies with the ongoing aluminum shortage, not the food itself. “Aluminum availability is still a concern, so it may be more difficult to find those canned, ready-to-eat items on store shelves,” Holcomb said. This also applies to some canned drinks.

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Meat and poultry

TODAY consulted experts who predicted “strong price increases” in wholesale beef and pork prices, particularly on barbecue fare like hot dogs and ribs, earlier this summer; however, prices of both these products have been trending downward in recent weeks.

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Meanwhile, be sure to plan ahead for your Thanksgiving turkey, as COVID continues to cripple some meat processing plants. “We’re seeing a shortage with fresh product, like turkeys for Thanksgiving, fresh fish and center cut steaks like ribeye and porterhouse,” one grocery store stakeholder told TODAY.

Me, I’ll be doing the same thing I did last year: purchasing three to four cans of corn a few weeks before I need them and leaning into pre-cooked Thanksgiving poultry from Popeyes. If you find yourself in a bind, I’d be willing to part with my canned corn—for a price.