Supermarket shelves go bare as Omicron disrupts US

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“PLENTY OF FOOD”

Parts of the country that face disruptive weather are most vulnerable to such shortages, Penfield said.

Grocery stores are most likely to run out of perishable goods like fresh produce that can’t be stockpiled, hence why shelves in some Washington-area stores remained empty days after a recent snowfall.

The United States is seeing massive numbers of new COVID-19 cases as Omicron tears through the population, and Penfield warned that shortages at grocery stores could persist until the end of March, assuming “everything goes back to normal and we have no new variant”.

The National Grocers Association (NGA), which represents independent players in the food distribution industry, said the challenges businesses nationwide have faced finding enough employees “strain critical industries, including grocery and the food industry at large”.

In a recent survey of their 1,500 members, some reported operating for brief periods at half capacity during the height of the outbreak.

“While there is plenty of food in the supply chain, we anticipate consumers will continue to experience sporadic disruptions in certain product categories as we have seen over the past year and half due to the ongoing supply and labor challenges,” the NGA said in an email.