Why you're having trouble finding kids' favorite items at the grocery store

Posted at 8:33 AM, Sep 27, 2021

You may have trouble finding some of your kids' favorite items on grocery store shelves lately. Things like juice boxes are in short supply as a supply chain issue impacts products across the country.

David Menachof is an associate professor and director at Florida Atlantic University's Masters in Supply Chain Management program. He says right now, there is just too much volume in the system and not enough people to move it around. Menachof says there are dozens of container ships lined up off the coast of California, full of products.

"It's not just that there's too many container ships and we're trying to supply everything, the ports themselves just cannot load and unload those containers fast enough and if they could there are just not enough rail cars and truckers to take the containers out of the Port to allow more space to unload additional containers," he says. "If you lined them (containers) up end to end it would stretch from LA to the Mississippi River, so that is a lot of containers containing a lot of product."

Menachof says to avoid panic buying, and eventually the supply will catch up.

"Being flexible," he says. "The supply is out there, it's just not necessarily where we want it. It's going to take a little bit of time."

He says unlike the beginning of the pandemic when no one could find toilet paper at the store, these shortages are not consumer-made. He says companies are still trying to recover from layoffs when plants shut down and farmers scaled back on production because they had no where to send items early in the pandemic.

He says there are delays shipping from China as well.

"Goods that used to take 40 days to get to their destination from China to the U.S. are now taking 70 days, an additional month," Menachof says. "We've got too much volume in the system, where as prior to COVID in a stable environment we had enough excess capacity so that there were enough truckers, there were enough train cars - they weren't at 100%."

Menachof says to be patient and flexible and avoid panic buying.

"It's almost like playing the game 'Whack-a-Mole'. We're gonna see shortages, you just will not know exactly what product at what time, it's just gonna randomly, seemingly randomly going around, and when the shortage comes you'll see the resupply, we have to avoid the idea of panic buying because all that does is put an excess demand on that product."