The Van Trump Report

What About This Turkey and Potatoes Shortage… And a Few Other Items You Might Not Get at the Grocery Store

I tried to buy a few pounds of turkey at some local Kansas City BBQ joints the past few weekends and they all told us they were no longer selling turkey in big bulk because of the shortage. My wife went to two different grocery stores this week and they were both out of turkey in the deli section. I heard that several Jimmy John’s had to take some turkey sandwiches off its menu and that some Subway Sandwich Shops have also been struggling to source turkey in many parts of the country. Some grocery store executives we know are saying this holiday season it could get difficult in some areas to get turkey so we better plan early. During last year’s holiday season, some people weren’t able to find certain turkey sizes. The smaller sizes were particularly hard to find, this year things could get even worse

The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects the country’s turkey production to fall to 5,359 million pounds in 2022. If the estimates are correct, U.S. turkey production will fall for the third consecutive year. This year the major production setback was caused by the bird-flu outbreaks in the Midwest, which is the highest turkey-producing region in the U.S. The flu has also affected the production of eggs and chicken. Millions of birds in the country have been affected by the disease, which was mostly spread by migrating birds. To make things worse, the cost of raising poultry has spiked amid the steep rise in grain prices. This has made turkey farming unviable for many.

Hormel Foods, which owns the Jennie-O branded turkey products, has warned of “large supply gaps” in the back half of the year and has predicted that volumes would fall by over -30% during the period. 

I should note, U.S. turkey prices have also been rising. In June, while the CPI rose by 9.1 percent, poultry prices increased by 17.3 percent. The Department of Agriculture has also upwardly revised its turkey price forecast for the back half of 2022 as well as 2023.

Below are a few other items that are getting tough to find in some locations:
ChickPeas: Those who love hummus, might be disappointed by the drop in the supply of chickpeas. The Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted in a drop in production, as both countries are key suppliers of chickpeas for the world. Growers in the US have also dropped chickpeas lately in favor of other crops, reducing the domestic supply. 

Sugar: Brazil recently diverted more sugarcane to ethanol production, rather than sugar, due to high energy prices. Ethanol, aka alcohol, is used for a variety of products. This could mean a drop in sugar supply for some sources and brands, leading to increased prices and possible shortages. Interestingly, after years of concern in the industry, American consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic increased their sugar consumption and the demand is continuing to grow. Last week at the International Sweetener Symposium sponsored by the American Sugar Alliance, there was more evidence and data presented that folks are moving away from the more strict organic diets and are eating more like they were in the ’80s and ’90s.

Paper Goods: Pulp supplies have been affected yet again by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, causing shortages of paper supply from Europe. I have to imagine the Europeans are looking for any alternative energy they can find so turning wood into paper products is probably not tops on their list when they are searching for ways to heat their house. This could result in shortages and price spikes for paper products this winter. 

Canned Goods, Soda, Beer: With people stocking up on canned goods in 2020 and 2021, manufacturers continue to face an aluminum shortage. The shortage has continued through the pandemic, and a reduced supply of products like tomato paste, canned vegetables, soda, and some specialty brewed beer is likely to stay the norm. Meanwhile, the shortage of aluminum cans and the increasing price of raw ingredients have led to shortages and higher prices for your favorite craft brew.

Potatoes: The potato shortage across the country is largely [of] the Russet variety, mostly these oblong-shaped Russets are also referred to as baking potatoes, most popular as the base for French fries, twiced-baked potatoes, etc. Last year’s crop yielded fewer potatoes than it normally would, so potatoes have actually been tight all season, but as of late it has gotten crazy tight and in short supply. Early fall, late September is when a lot of the Russet crop is generally harvested and that crop typically lasts an entire year. This year, however, the crop was small, there was greater demand, and the new crop got planted late and was delayed by unseasonably cold and wet weather. Although the potato shortage should slowly get better as more of the new crop is ready to ship late-August into September, there won’t be significant relief until the crop is fully harvested and the potatoes are all in storage end of September/early-October. My wife went to two stores yesterday and couldn’t find any of the potatoes she likes to use to make baked potatoes. 

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