Holiday cooks will need to check their shopping list twice because the ongoing shortages of key ingredients aren’t ending anytime soon.
But it’s not just the ingredients needed to throw together a Christmas feast. It could be the essentials for setting the table like disposable plates, cups and cutlery, and food for your cat and dog that’s hard to find.
And of course, gifts, including popular video game consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, also are in high demand along with Christmas trees to put the presents under.
As the world reaches the two-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, more items are becoming scarce because of global supply chain disruptions such as congestion at ports and shortages of truck drivers and service workers.
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Patrick Penfield, professor of supply chain practice at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, told USA TODAY that cream cheese, peppermint and international foods are among the food products in short supply.
“As you walk through a lot of stores you won’t see the quantity and quality of items you are accustomed to seeing,” Penfield said. “Unfortunately, as we progress through the holiday season, we are seeing more bare shelves and stockouts of popular items.”
Some of the shortages, could be regional due to labor and truck shortages, Penfield said.
In a recent study by business consultancy KPMG, 71% of grocery consumers said they were somewhat or very concerned about shortages or stockouts with 35% switching brands when their favorite items are out of stock.
“We see demand surges during the holidays that make replenishment especially difficult, particularly given the transportation and store labor shortages and variant surges that can further reduce available labor,” Matt Kramer, KPMG consumer and retail sector leader, told USA TODAY.
Costco, Publix stores limit purchases
Some retailers have been limiting purchases of select items, similar to policies implemented at the start of the pandemic. But panic buying, especially of toilet paper, returned this summer as the delta variant spread.
Publix, which has more than 1,280 stores in the southern U.S., started limiting purchases of canned cranberry sauce, gravy, canned pie filling ahead of Thanksgiving. It has expanded its list of limited-purchase products ahead of Christmas to include sports drinks, half-and-half creamers, bacon, toilet paper, disposable plates, vegetable oils and cat food.
“Due to ongoing supply issues and increased holiday demand, we have updated our purchase limits,” Maria Brous, Publix director of communications, told USA TODAY, adding most products on the list are limited to two of each item including cat food variety packs. For individual cans or pouches of cat food, the limit is 10.
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Here are some of the other food-and-supply shortages USA TODAY reporters spotted or that readers from across the country told us about. Know of more? There’s a form below where you can share your experiences.
Cream cheese shortage
Bagel shops are struggling with the cream cheese shortage and Junior’s Cheesecake had to stop production twice at its New Jersey-based facility because it didn’t have enough cream cheese.
Philadelphia Cream Cheese is offering consumers help to pay for a replacement dessert, acknowledging the ongoing supply chain disruption of the key cheesecake ingredient
The Kraft Heinz brand is offering to reimburse 18,000 consumers $20 for a holiday dessert through its Philadelphia Spread the Feeling offer Friday and Saturday. (Learn more about the offer here.)
Ham recall could lead to shortage
In early December, Alexander & Hornung announced a recall of 234,391 pounds of pork products, including ham and pepperoni.
The Michigan-based meat producer later expanded its recall to 2.3 million pounds.
KPMG’s Kramer said this recall “places further challenges on high demand products.”
Cat food, dog food shortages
Shipping woes and aluminum shortages have led to a scarcity problem for the pet food industry as stores throughout the country are unable to stock all their traditional brands and products.
Consumers are also feeling the impact. Many USA TODAY readers listed canned or wet cat food as one of the top items they have been struggling to find.
These shortages are impacting the movement of ingredients and finished products, the Pet Food Institute told USA TODAY. Along with labor and transportation shortages, pet owners are spending more time with their pets which can lead to increased feeding and more treating. The high demand has resulted in larger purchases.
Chicken tender shortage
Chicken tenders may be the next casualty of supply-chain-generated shortages, according to a recent NBC News story. Chicken tenders require more processing and packaging, which makes them harder to find and more costly, the story said.
Meat manufacturers have cited extreme weather, labor shortages and high demand among the reasons consumers are having trouble finding tenders.
A spokesman for the National Chicken Council said products were taking longer than normal to get to their destinations but that does not constitute a ‘shortage’.
“There is no chicken tender shortage,” said Tom Super, senior vice president of communications with the trade group. “Like almost all goods right now, supplies are somewhat tight, but I would say it falls short of any ‘shortage.'”
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For months, parents have reported trouble finding Kraft Heinz’ Lunchables. The company told USA TODAY that it has been seeing double-digit growth for the first time in five years.
High demand is one reason why it’s harder to find these items.
“Our entire supply chain continues to step up – taking actions that protect our business today, while working hard to not delay critical investments that set us up for the future,” Kraft Heinz said in the statement.
Champagne shortage could impact New Year’s celebrations
The nation is in the early stages of a champagne shortage that is expected to last several years, according to Wine Enthusiast. The demand of champagne is also up 20%, Nielsen said.
Drizly, North America’s largest alcohol e-commerce and on-demand delivery platform, surveyed 500 alcohol retailers and found 80% said they were at least slightly concerned about the champagne supply running short.
Even with the shortages, Liz Paquette, Drizly head of consumer insights, said champagne and prosecco continue to be the top-selling sparkling wines with 63% and 18% of market share.
“With demand holding strong for champagne and prosecco, we aren’t seeing signs that consumers are seeking alternatives just yet on Drizly but can anticipate impacts due to the supply chain strains as we get deeper into the holiday season,” Paquette said.
Cranberry sauce shortage
Whether it tops your turkey or pairs with your dressing, cranberry sauce may be hard to come by.
Ocean Spray had some of its own “supply chain challenges,” the company said in a statement to USA TODAY. As a result, some consumers might have to opt for whole berry sauce or homemade sauce instead of jellied sauce, for instance.
More consumers have opted to enjoy their favorite beverages in the comfort of their homes causing a higher demand for canned drinks. But the pandemic is only part of the problem.
The demand for can products accumulated for years according to a Quartz article. Canned drinks are cheaper to make and transport, and easier to market and design, initiating the highest prices for aluminum the market has seen in the last ten years senior analyst Salvator Tiano told Quartz.
Having a hard time finding your favorite craft beer? It could be part of the aluminum shortage, but the price of ingredients for beer is also skyrocketing due to supply chain issues throughout the world.
Sam Hendler, co-owner of Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers in Framingham, Massachusetts and president of the Mass. Brewers Guild, told MetroWest Daily News that the cost increases being felt by breweries are universal and a big topic among colleagues.
In the past, manufacturers couldn’t keep up with the demand to make cans, but now even when cans are available, getting them to breweries can be difficult.
Toilet paper shortage continues
In spring 2020, demand for toilet paper skyrocketed as Americans were faced with a possibly lengthy stay-at-home future. Panic buying of bath tissue has returned at various times throughout the pandemic. This shortage stems from lumber’s raw material, wood pulp, which is used to make toilet paper.
Share what items you are having a hard time finding, your holiday shopping plans and how inflation is hitting your wallet and your Christmas meal on the form below. If you don’t see a form, click here.
Contributing: Michelle Shen and Taylor Avery, USA TODAY; Norman Miller, MetroWest Daily News