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Old 03-20-2020, 11:02 AM
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Food (etc) shortages: will they last?


Toilet paper is the best-known household product that has largely disappeared (in addition to things like hand sanitizer, of course).

Most of this is driven by panic buying, which in turn drives more panic buying ("There's a TP shortage! They just brought some out. Imma buy it ALL because THERE'S A TP SHORTAGE ZOMG!!!!!1111"). The grocery store near me had been wiped out of virtually any food item you might think you'd need for a long haul hunkering down at home. On Wednesday, my husband was chatting with a neighbor near the mailboxes (they were 6+ feet apart, don't worry!) and another neighbor drove by: she said she'd heard that Wegman's had meat back in stock and she was going to get some.

Now, my first thought is that once the panic buying settles down a bit (e.g. after you have your 2 year's worth of toilet paper and sixty pounds of pasta), normal restocking processes should begin to keep up with more normal demand. Right?

The aspect of this situation that I have not seen on any news source is whether all the shutdowns are affecting things like trucking and rail freight - i.e. whether food distribution systems are yet impacted. With California under statewide lockdown, are truckers still running?
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:08 AM
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My brother works at a warehouse for a large midwestern grocery chain. So far, nothing is slowing down for them. Drivers are driving, trucks are getting packed and shipped to stores. He says they're doing about 3x the delivery that they normally do (ie when a store gets a truck a day, now they're getting 3). His place is all overtime, all day, every day.

My boyfriend works as a truck maintenance mechanic. He says they're churning out trucks as fast as they can. Trucks are coming in faster than usual because they have scheduled maintenance at certain mileage, so they're getting more miles now.

On a local group someone asked who is still working outside of their homes. Anyone who works in a factory said they're still out there working, having their temperatures taken when they come in.

One thing that sucks for truckers is that some of the places they rely on while on the road are closed. Restaurants, truck stops, etc. You might see more truckers at gas stations and grocery stores now.

Last edited by ZipperJJ; 03-20-2020 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 03-20-2020, 01:25 PM
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AFAIK, the food shortages were strictly a matter of very short term spikes in demand- i.e. people cleaned out their local stores. However, the grocery store supply chains aren't tapped out, and somewhere along that chain, maybe multiple places along that chain, there's some buffer capacity to handle unforeseen spikes.

So it's extremely likely they'll just refill the stores pretty quick and the manufacturers will keep on chugging, and in fairly short order, stock levels will be back to normal.
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Old 03-20-2020, 01:48 PM
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We'll see what happen to produce when migrant agricultural workers are kept from entering the country. Who's going to plant crops this spring? Who's going to harvest them this fall?
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Old 03-20-2020, 01:51 PM
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A representative of the grocery industry on the local public radio station yesterday said there isn't a "shortage" per se, in the sense that manufacturers are capable of making enough stuff for everyone. The problem is that people are buying way more than they actually need, and stores are selling out faster than they can restock. He implored everyone to go back to their normal shopping patterns, and if people did that the level of stock in stores would return to normal.
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Old 03-20-2020, 01:52 PM
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The supply chain in this country is rather robust. What you are seeing is everybody going into "Hurricane!" mode all at once. 2 weeks from now you won't be able to get in the stores for all the pallets of TP and paper towels they'll have sitting around.
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Old 03-20-2020, 02:00 PM
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One thing that sucks for truckers is that some of the places they rely on while on the road are closed. Restaurants, truck stops, etc. You might see more truckers at gas stations and grocery stores now.
I saw a post by a trucker saying their usual grab-and-go food options are gone. He commented that most fast-food restaurants are cool with them walking through the drive-through, but he asked people to help out by ordering food for them if you see one that can't.
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Old 03-20-2020, 02:11 PM
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I would think that at some point the hamster shoppers will run out of garage and spare room space and will have to give it a rest. At that point I expect things will return to normal. We’ll see!
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Old 03-20-2020, 02:11 PM
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According to the biggest local grocery chain (H-E-B -> 350 stores in south Texas and northern Mexico), there aren't any food shortages. The shelves are bare (when they are bare) because customers are stripping them and the store can't get them restocked fast enough before the next batch of locusts arrives. I understand buying more now during your shopping trip than maybe you did two weeks ago just so you won't have to come back so soon, but it's not necessary to clean out the stores every day.
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Old 03-20-2020, 02:39 PM
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Several days ago, laundry detergent was mostly gone from supermarket shelves in this area. There might have been a lone jug of Persil here and there, but that was about it. Yesterday, it looked like the supply was starting to trickle back, even for Tide. Bar soap, inducing Dove, also seems to be returning slowly.

Toilet paper: if you go early, you might find a few packages of some store brand or Scott. None of the good stuff, like Charmin. Same thing for paper towels. It's more than what was around last week, though.

Last edited by elmwood; 03-20-2020 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 03-20-2020, 02:43 PM
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We'll see what happen to produce when migrant agricultural workers are kept from entering the country. Who's going to plant crops this spring? Who's going to harvest them this fall?
All those out of work waiters?
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Old 03-20-2020, 03:10 PM
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If the population of the country stays the same, the total amount of food consumed will stay the same. Under the circumstances, it will be diverted from restaurants to consumer grocery stores, sit-down restaurants to takeouts, and delivery services will become more active, but it's the same aggregate amount of food.

If people hoard food in their pantry or freezer, and the threat diminishes significantly in the next few weeks or months, the stores may become overstocked, since people don't need to go to the store if their breakfast, lunch and dinner are already at home. I can even foresee sales to clear excess inventory or clogged supply pipelines.

Unlike food, some products will have to be produced and distributed in larger quantities -- cleaning and sanitizing stuff. The market will adjust as long as it is allowed to.
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Old 03-20-2020, 04:10 PM
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The clerk I talked to at my local Wegmans today said they're receiving toilet paper but paper lurk until the doors open and then just strip the shelves bare.

Who are these people? Shouldn't the people who have been stripping the shelves bare every day have enough TP by now? Are they just piling rolls on top of rolls? Are they making home-made masks sheet by sheet to sell on Etsy? What can they be thinking?
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Old 03-20-2020, 04:33 PM
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A representative of the grocery industry on the local public radio station yesterday said there isn't a "shortage" per se, in the sense that manufacturers are capable of making enough stuff for everyone. The problem is that people are buying way more than they actually need, and stores are selling out faster than they can restock. He implored everyone to go back to their normal shopping patterns, and if people did that the level of stock in stores would return to normal.
We were told to stock up on food so we limit trips to the grocery store to avoid exposure.
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Old 03-20-2020, 04:37 PM
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If people hoard food in their pantry or freezer, and the threat diminishes significantly in the next few weeks or months, the stores may become overstocked, since people don't need to go to the store if their breakfast, lunch and dinner are already at home. I can even foresee sales to clear excess inventory or clogged supply pipelines.
That's the conclusion this CNBC article came to a couple of days ago - we'll soon see a hell of a lot more TP etc and the stores are going to end up with too much of it.
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Old 03-20-2020, 05:01 PM
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We'll see what happen to produce when migrant agricultural workers are kept from entering the country. Who's going to plant crops this spring? Who's going to harvest them this fall?
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Originally Posted by Dale Sams View Post
All those out of work waiters?
Judging by my experience with unskilled people trying to do farm work: at quarter speed at best, and doing significant damage to both the harvested crop and (when applicable, for crops for which it matters) the plants they're harvesting from while they're at it.

It seems to be a common impression that the work migrant agricultural workers are doing is totally unskilled and anybody can do it, can do it right, can do it at speed, and can do it for at least somewhere near fulltime hours in a day. None of those things is true.

People who are in decent physical shape and willing can learn, of course. But it can take years to get them fully up on the job.
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Old 03-20-2020, 05:11 PM
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Shit I'm going through more food per week than I have in years. I make 40 extra lunches in my house a week.
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Old 03-20-2020, 05:44 PM
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The same phenomenon has happened in the UK (and elsewhere I'm willing to bet), but oddly did not occur in Italy.

The British supermarkets are drastically reducing the number of products they are asking their suppliers to produce. From a BBC report:

Quote:
"We currently sell 60 types of sausages - we are moving to a fraction of that," said one supermarket.

Another said: "We need to make food manufacture as efficient as possible - it makes no sense to pause to change packet sizes or change from one type of pasta to another.

"We have 20 different sizes and styles of pasta, we are moving that to six."
Also 24 hour supermarkets are closing for a few hours at night to stop unscrupulous late night hoarders and to give the staff more space and time to restock the shelves. Then the first hour of business is open only to customers over 70 or people with other special needs.

Most are also restricting purchase of products to a maximum of three per customer.

How long this lasts is anyones guess but the thinking is that the it should calm down.

And as my brother pointed out, the smaller independent supermarkets all seem to be better stocked. He visited a Halal butcher (we are not Muslim) and bought some really nice cuts of meat and there was plenty of availability.

Last edited by Fiendish Astronaut; 03-20-2020 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 03-20-2020, 05:49 PM
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Shit I'm going through more food per week than I have in years. I make 40 extra lunches in my house a week.
Is that you, Captain Von Trapp?

Seriously, eight lunches per day? Who are all those people?
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Old 03-20-2020, 06:46 PM
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Judging by my experience with unskilled people trying to do farm work: at quarter speed at best, and doing significant damage to both the harvested crop and (when applicable, for crops for which it matters) the plants they're harvesting from while they're at it.

It seems to be a common impression that the work migrant agricultural workers are doing is totally unskilled and anybody can do it, can do it right, can do it at speed, and can do it for at least somewhere near fulltime hours in a day. None of those things is true.

People who are in decent physical shape and willing can learn, of course. But it can take years to get them fully up on the job.
My SIL, later a rather prominent author, practiced and taught martial arts while at uni. Very athletic and nimble. She took a summer job picking strawberries. Lasted exactly one day. Aggie work is NOT for the inexperienced.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:19 PM
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If the population of the country stays the same, the total amount of food consumed will stay the same. Under the circumstances, it will be diverted from restaurants to consumer grocery stores, sit-down restaurants to takeouts, and delivery services will become more active, but it's the same aggregate amount of food.
. . .
This is the key, I think. Take the number of restaurants in your area, times the amount of food normally served through them, and now turn that into retail consumption. This requires different levels of prep, (the average consumer won't butcher the meat themselves) labeling, and packaging.

Take a 10-restaurant route for a meat delivery service. They might make 10 deliveries of 100 pounds each, with the customer dividing the meat into the different cuts. To make that a grocery store delivery, you need 1-2 pound packages, already divided, with proper FDA labeling and oh, by the way, they need 3,000 pounds per day, not your usual 1,000. (These numbers are all examples pulled from the air - you see what I mean.)

So you need a semi, not a panel truck, and a new packaging machine, and new certifications for your food handling staff.

It's going to take a while for that food pipeline to mesh into the grocery store line is all I'm saying. The majority of producers will opt to put that food into a freezer and wait it out.

So, will we starve? No, of course not. But we might lose weight, or get very bored indeed with the foodstuffs available to us. The next few months could get ugly, and having alternative sourcing strategies in your back pocket could be important. My kingdom for a Restaurant Depot membership card.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:24 PM
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Merchants may have to establish quantity limits, until people come back to their senses, for things like TP and cleaning supplies (and ammunition ), to prevent the cleanout hoarders.

For food there is the aforementioned rationale of "I'll get enough to last me the whole month" but also mentioned has been how for a lot of people, half their meals in a given week happened outside the home -- school lunch, plant cafeteria, coffee & sandwich shop, fast food. Now they are stuck having to feed the whole family three squares a day every day and they run down the pantry fast.

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Old 03-20-2020, 07:49 PM
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Ordinarily, toilet paper supplies would rebound quickly after the hoarding frenzy, but I heard there’s an outbreak of a virulent strain of Dutch Elm disease caused by the Chinese Giant Flying Squirrel that will necessitate quarantining all the toilet paper trees.


I’m kidding.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:57 PM
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T
Take a 10-restaurant route for a meat delivery service. They might make 10 deliveries of 100 pounds each, with the customer dividing the meat into the different cuts. To make that a grocery store delivery, you need 1-2 pound packages, already divided, with proper FDA labeling and oh, by the way, they need 3,000 pounds per day, not your usual 1,000. (These numbers are all examples pulled from the air - you see what I mean.)
In support of this. at the store this morning they were out of chicken and eggs, easy things for novices to cook. They had plenty of scallops.

But some is definitely panic buying. They were out of bottled water and water jugs. These are good things to store in earthquake country, but our sinks work and will continue to work, so a run on them seems weird.
There do seem to be some supply chain problems though, since some deliveries were late.
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Old 03-22-2020, 08:26 PM
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In support of this. at the store this morning they were out of chicken and eggs, easy things for novices to cook. They had plenty of scallops.

But some is definitely panic buying. They were out of bottled water and water jugs. These are good things to store in earthquake country, but our sinks work and will continue to work, so a run on them seems weird.
There do seem to be some supply chain problems though, since some deliveries were late.
I'm seeing the water bounce back. It's still on the shelves. I use distilled water for a BPAP machine and I like to keep a reasonable stock of it on hand. Not really sure how much I use in a week but I have 3 or 4 gallons of it. Oddly it seems to make a difference which brand you buy. Some of them have a smell to them and I don't want to be inhaling whatever it is.

I have seen tp from time to time but it still seems to be the #1 hording item. I bought some extra back in January when China started shutting down flights. Even though I thought I'd be working at home I didn't think about using more of it on a daily basis.

Other than paper items and hand cleaner I haven't seen any items that couldn't be substituted for by something else.

Last edited by Magiver; 03-22-2020 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 03-23-2020, 12:11 AM
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If the population of the country stays the same, the total amount of food consumed will stay the same. Under the circumstances, it will be diverted from restaurants to consumer grocery stores, sit-down restaurants to takeouts, and delivery services will become more active, but it's the same aggregate amount of food.

If people hoard food in their pantry or freezer, and the threat diminishes significantly in the next few weeks or months, the stores may become overstocked, since people don't need to go to the store if their breakfast, lunch and dinner are already at home. I can even foresee sales to clear excess inventory or clogged supply pipelines.
This might not work for some kinds of foods with limited shelf life (like bread). I have a hunch that some of these panic buyers are buying much more of perishable items than they can consume within the time of those items' shelf lives. Thus, I think a lot of food is going to be wasted.
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Old 03-23-2020, 02:47 AM
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Sydney supermarkets have been rationing items per customer for the past week or more. 1 packet of toilet paper per transaction; 2 packs of tissues, flour, rice pasta and many other things. They are closing two hours earlier and opening an hour later to give staff time to restock. The shelves are still emptied every day.
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Old 03-23-2020, 02:54 AM
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Sydney supermarkets have been rationing items per customer for the past week or more. 1 packet of toilet paper per transaction; 2 packs of tissues, flour, rice pasta and many other things. They are closing two hours earlier and opening an hour later to give staff time to restock. The shelves are still emptied every day.
Shopping a couple of days ago, and going through the self-checkout at Coles, the bloody machine had conniptions when I tried to scan 4 x bags ffs. 🤣🤣
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Old 03-23-2020, 03:33 AM
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This is similar to the gas shortage in the 70's with long lines at gas stations. There was a slight drop in availability but the issue was exasperated by human nature in that almost everyone wanted a full tank most of the time, just in case.
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Old 03-23-2020, 07:47 AM
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The migrant worker thing is rapidly becoming a major concern.

Out of work waiters and such just won't be able to hack it.
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Old 03-23-2020, 07:56 AM
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So Costco seems to be taking a hardline against people who bought too much toilet paper. Good for them, there was never any reason to stock up in the first place.
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Old 03-23-2020, 08:40 AM
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Ordinarily, toilet paper supplies would rebound quickly after the hoarding frenzy, but I heard there’s an outbreak of a virulent strain of Dutch Elm disease caused by the Chinese Giant Flying Squirrel that will necessitate quarantining all the toilet paper trees.
Good to know. I planted half the rolls I picked up at Costco before the crisis. Now I'll be sure to put squirrel-proof screening around the sapplings. This is a fast-growing variety so I should be harvesting small rolls by early June. Hopefully unnecessary but it's good to be prepared
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Old 03-23-2020, 08:46 AM
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This might not work for some kinds of foods with limited shelf life (like bread). I have a hunch that some of these panic buyers are buying much more of perishable items than they can consume within the time of those items' shelf lives. Thus, I think a lot of food is going to be wasted.
Commercial bread at least freezes ok. I used to buy it occasionally and would always have to freeze it because we ate so little.
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Old 03-23-2020, 08:58 AM
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So Costco seems to be taking a hardline against people who bought too much toilet paper. Good for them, there was never any reason to stock up in the first place.
Uhhh...all that article says is Costco won't be accepting returns on some items. Not unreasonable (returns can be risky for the seller), but remember that the entire business plan of Costco is to sell in quantity.

What you are doing is prudent stocking up for a rainy day; what your neighbor is doing is wasteful hoarding.
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:08 AM
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Judging by my experience with unskilled people trying to do farm work: at quarter speed at best, and doing significant damage to both the harvested crop and (when applicable, for crops for which it matters) the plants they're harvesting from while they're at it.

It seems to be a common impression that the work migrant agricultural workers are doing is totally unskilled and anybody can do it, can do it right, can do it at speed, and can do it for at least somewhere near fulltime hours in a day. None of those things is true.

People who are in decent physical shape and willing can learn, of course. But it can take years to get them fully up on the job.
Stephen Colbert tried working for one day as a migrant farm worker back in 2010; he found it very difficult work.
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Please don’t make me do this again. It is really, really hard … Apparently, even the invisible hand doesn’t want to pick beans.
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:12 AM
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Sam's Club is limiting a lot of food products including produce and all paper products - one per customer.

Our next-door neighbor works at a local grocery store. He said that the amount of toilet paper they sold in one week equaled what they normally sell in a year!
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:30 AM
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Uhhh...all that article says is Costco won't be accepting returns on some items. Not unreasonable (returns can be risky for the seller), but remember that the entire business plan of Costco is to sell in quantity.

What you are doing is prudent stocking up for a rainy day; what your neighbor is doing is wasteful hoarding.
But part of Costco's business plan is accepting returns no questions asked. I've taken back some stuff a year later that I didn't use and the accepted the return no questions asked. This is significant change to policy. But, its most likely temporary and only to keep people from clogging the return lane and exposing people to the virus.
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:35 AM
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We're thinking of making a Costco run in about an hour - should be interesting. We'll be looking for produce, maybe some meat, and some shelf-stable foods such as rice and canned goods. Maybe a 6-pack of caskets while we're there .

In the middle of last week, I started a Peapod (grocery delivery) order. The first delivery slot I could reserve was for this coming Saturday - because I'm not the only one ordering food, it seems. Luckily we can add to the order as we go, so everyone in the household has my password and can add things. I've noticed that many common things are becoming harder to find there - e.g. no boneless chicken (oddly, I can get ground beef).

I think the software must have some prediction capability in place: there are things that I could find when I first started ordering (mint chocolate chip ice cream being the one I remember most clearly), and placed in my cart, that no longer show up as available when I do a search. The ice cream is still in my cart - so I must have snagged one of the last few cartons they expected to have available. Hopefully what that means is that if I am able to add something to my cart, I'm likelly to get it even if the delivery is 10 days later.

I'm twitchy about my daughter. She is in a small town in Vermont (one of the largest towns in the state, though) and is not that good at stocking up - plus she's moving to a new apartment this week so really *can't* stock up. She's started trying to make her own bread since it's a bit hard to get there.
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:49 AM
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My son works in a plant that makes the flavored tube steaks like Cheddarwurst and Italian sausages for major retail chains such as Aldi's and Kroger's plus many regional store chains. Normally they have about 3-4 week supply in the warehouse freezer to guard against supply disruptions and as a buffer switching over to other flavors. He was told that the buffer is almost gone. They are trying to ramp up manpower to get their new plant fully operational. ATM it's a skeleton crew on a shakedown / training startup. The old plant was slated to be closed but that is now on hold hence the need for more help.

I make deep fried appetizers at my plant. We are busy repackaging product slated for restaurants and commercial vendors into family sized retail packaging. Mainly this is taking product from unlabeled large bags and running them back through the baggers to put it in properly labelled* smaller bags. Our retail customers also cannot keep up with demand. A sizable minority of our business was retail which leaves a lot of commercial sales not happening. We are planning for a slowdown. We have also slowed down due to number of people taking leave to care for their kids not in school or daycare anymore. Starting today 15-20% of our production was idled.

*cooking instructions, allergens, ingredients, nutritional data, name brand
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Last edited by PoppaSan; 03-23-2020 at 09:52 AM. Reason: typo
  #40  
Old 03-23-2020, 09:59 AM
Eva Luna is online now
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Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
She's started trying to make her own bread since it's a bit hard to get there.
I belong to a bunch of cooking Facebook groups, and I feel like I've reposted instructions for how to make your own sourdough starter about half a billion times in the past few days. Even people who have a bag of flour in the house may not have yeast.
  #41  
Old 03-23-2020, 10:18 AM
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Somebody -- a whole lotta somebodys -- is baking bread, or at least intending to. One of the few empty shelves when my fiancee and I went to the grocery yesterday in the suburbs of Chicago was the flour section. Almost no wheat flour left, though adequate amounts of non-wheat flour (corn, rice, arrowroot, teff, etc.). Meanwhile, the bakery section and pre-packaged bread aisle were well-stocked. So was almost everything else that wasn't toilet paper or paper towels; there was even a modest selection of eggs and actual cow's milk, unlike my last grocery run where the only milk left was non-dairy "milk" or goat's milk.

How many Americans still bake? I know some do -- my fiancee wanted wheat flour to bake something particular, not out of an amorphous need to fulfill a panic-buying list that was apparently written in 1955 when the Leave it to Beaver mom still baked from scratch. But to the point where the wheat flour shelves are empty but the coffee and tea shelves (for instance, and naming things not grown on millions of acres of the continental US like wheat ) are full?
  #42  
Old 03-23-2020, 10:23 AM
Eva Luna is online now
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I bake bread (and other things) regularly and know quite a few people who do. But even if I hadn't before, I'd seriously consider it now just to reduce the number of trips to the grocery store.
  #43  
Old 03-23-2020, 10:24 AM
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This morning, local grocery was nearly fully stocked. Able to buy our preferred brand of paper towels, and (not usual brand) TP.

Bread, cereal, fresh produce, etc - all our preferred brands - all well stocked.
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  #44  
Old 03-23-2020, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by John Bredin View Post
Somebody -- a whole lotta somebodys -- is baking bread, or at least intending to. ...
How many Americans still bake? I know some do -- my fiancee wanted wheat flour to bake something particular, not out of an amorphous need to fulfill a panic-buying list that was apparently written in 1955 when the Leave it to Beaver mom still baked from scratch.
My high school aged daughter now stuck at home and her college aged brother who still can work have decided to use this time to see how many different pizzas they can make. They do self rising crust of course. After some desperation multi store trips to find yeast, I tried to convince her to just save some dough to use as a starter for the next batch. But what does dad know about cooking? Fortunately mom was raised in a household with daily homemade bread so she convinced her to at least give it a whirl.
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  #45  
Old 03-23-2020, 12:14 PM
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I baked a loaf of bread Saturday. I have a bread machine; the bread ain't pretty but it's pretty much 1) dump ingredients 2) press button 3) eat
  #46  
Old 03-23-2020, 12:46 PM
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Things are starting to recover here....

Stuff that is out/limited

TP
paper goods
ramen/dried noodles
rice
pasta

Stuff that is thin but seems to be hanging on/recovering:

canned meats/veggies
canned soups/stews
milk
cookies/crackers
frozen dinners

stuff that seems just fine

service deli and in house bakery
fresh meats and veggies
ice cream
liquor

when I go to the stores I have noted that there ALWAYS seems to be clerks restocking alcohol products.
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  #47  
Old 03-23-2020, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Eva Luna View Post
I belong to a bunch of cooking Facebook groups, and I feel like I've reposted instructions for how to make your own sourdough starter about half a billion times in the past few days. Even people who have a bag of flour in the house may not have yeast.
Good idea!

She did get some yeast though she said it was hard to find.

I like the 'Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day" thing - gotta find my cookbook though I think the basic instructions are available online. I was really into that for a while. Right now fridge space is at a premium (you make the dough and leave it in the fridge until you need it).

Flour is indeed hard to find as well.

We visited Costco today and they had limits on how much you could purchase of certain things. Most people we saw leaving the store had a large package of toilet paper - I suspect that was one of the "can only buy one" items. Chicken was another "one only" thing and their boneless chicken breasts were cleaned out; we got the last package and it was available only because one of the sections was half empty. They had parboiled rice, and some kind of sticky rice, and nothing else rice-wise. Other than that they seemed well stocked - though there were signs outside saying "no sanitizer / lysol wipes etc.".
  #48  
Old 03-23-2020, 02:34 PM
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Aha - here's the basic 5 minutes a day recipe.
  #49  
Old 03-23-2020, 05:52 PM
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I gotta say, I’m impressed with the manner in which my local Publix grocery store is handling the Corona-situation. They are rationing the hardest hit frenzy-buy products properly and are adhering to a sensible sanitation protocol (wiping down cart handles with disinfectant, limiting hours to cleanse the store frequently, etc.). Their butchers, bakers and candlestick makers seafood handlers replenish their hard-hit display counters as quickly as they can. They and all the rest of the Publix staff remain pleasant and accommodating, despite being over-worked and over-stressed. Cudos to all!

The shoppers, however...well, they’re just idiots.

I keep myself and my teen kid at home and only venture out to the grocery store when needed and to the cat rescue we volunteer at (because kitties need help, and they’re not idiots). We wear surgical masks when we do go out (only got 2 left from my retired doctor bag. We use, disinfect, dry and re-use). Sure, they don’t filter virus-size particles, but I figure they at least help limit the distance droplet-borne viruses travel, so, why not?

The last 2 times I went to Publix, my intent was to go in, shop quickly, keep my distance from everyone, say nice things to the staff and get out just as quickly. Assuming you and everyone around you is infected is a smart way to proceed for the time being. Just imagine you’re playing the old kid-game, “cooties.”

But, my fellow shoppers do not share the same idea. For some reason, I seem to be a magnet for idiots. I’m a tiny bit overweight (“tiny” is a relative measurement. Compared to a hippopotamus for example, I’m pretty tiny), but certainly not enough to create a gravity sink...but, who knows? Never have I been more sidled up to, bumped into and blocked as I’ve been in a store as I was this past week.

Idiots. Idiots all around.

On aisle 6 (the paper and sex toy product aisle), Publix finally had a limited supply of TP and napkins on the shelves (1 each per person). So, I made my way half-way up the aisle and get blocked dead in my tracks by a woman on the TP side and a man on the napkin side with their respective carts longitudinally adjacent to each other, completely blocking the aisle (they didn’t know each other as far as I could tell. I was cart-blocked, not cock-blocked).

Rather than just scooping up what they needed then going on their merry way, they took this opportunity to pick up, one by one, each available brand of TP/napkin and inspect it thoroughly. It’s napkins and toilet paper people!; at your ages (~50, going on 3) you should know enough about these pedestrian consumer products to make a quick buying decision!

So, I laid back about 10 feet and just stood there, patiently, waiting to see just how clueless and inconsiderate these idiots could be.

They didn’t disappoint.

Then, another idiot who closed in quickly behind me (and could clearly see that I was waiting for the 2 idiots ahead of me to move their idiot-asses so I could progress) decided he wanted to be closer to the action. So, he scooted around me (rubbing his idiot-body on me in the process) and inserted himself directly in front of me, just behind the other 2 idiots. Not only was he an idiot, he smelled bad, too. Alas, surgical masks don’t filter out foul smells, either.

Then another idiot pulls up next to me and yet another idiot pulls up right behind me. And, all of these idiots looked like the type of people a deadly virus would like to infect (viruses love idiots). “Viri” and “idiots” both have 2 eyes. Coincidence? I think not.

Even in the best of times I get claustrophobic easily (paradoxically due to a nasty case of agoraphobia), so, being closed in by this rabid pack of pseudo-virus-spewing zombies was starting to feel real to me.

Then, the idiot behind me sneezed and everybody looked at him. But still, nobody budged.

Then, another idiot pulled up behind the idiot that was behind me.

But, that idiot stayed about 10 feet behind everyone else and after a few moments, he giggled. So, maybe he wasn’t an idiot after all. Maybe he was a compatriot that I could relate to. And, indeed he was.

I looked back and made eye contact with Mr. Giggles. He shrugged. I shrugged. Finally, I looked ahead again, threw my hands in the air and said, “really people?!? Are we all just going to stand here spreading our germs around willy nilly!”

They all looked at me, but no one moved. So, I turned my cart around and made my way in the opposite direction past the idiot behind me. The idiot who wasn’t an idiot behind him did the same and we pushed our carts aside each other onto the next aisle. I said, “can you believe those idiots?” He giggled again and said, “nope. Lots of idiots around.”

With my luck, I probably caught Coronavirus from Mr. Giggles and will soon die a horrible death. Hopefully there’s no idiots in heaven (...I assume that’s where I’m going. Right???).
  #50  
Old 03-24-2020, 11:10 AM
Mama Zappa is offline
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I visited Costco yesterday early in the afternoon. There was a longish line of people waiting to go in (they were restricting the number of shoppers - good for them!) and there was a barricate of carts and pallets keeping the line organized. Mostly people were maintaining their distance in the line pretty well, which was why it looked so long.

There was a sign saying what they were out of (the usual - gloves, Lysol etc. - and of all things, Spam!). There were some things that you could only buy one of - like various chicken products, you could only get one of each type, ditto rice. They didn't have much rice: some parboiled stuff and some sticky rice - and there was a sign saying neither was returnable). I didn't look for toilet paper as we have plenty (though I admit I changed my Amazon subscription to monthly vs bimonthly) but they clearly had it, as I saw people leaving the store with it in their carts. I suspect that was a one-per-customer thing also.

They had plenty of produce of various sorts so I bought some. No green grapes, interestingly. Nor blackberries. I got what I thought we could eat in a week or so - I've become a bit of a dictator now on food waste at home.

They had canned tomato products - I got a gallon of tomato sauce to go with the gallon of whole tomatoes from the grocery store. Now what to do with them!!!

They had plenty of beef products in contrast to the chicken shortage (we got the last package of chicken breasts and only got that because it was "defective", one of the 3 plastic sections only had a very small piece in it). Looking at the beef, I was seriously wondering if I should order another freezer - we have a main fridge in our kitchen, and a smaller standalone freezer in the basement, which is jammed at the moment. If things get much scarcer I might wish I'd done it.

Checking out was a breeze. I've never gotten out of the place so fast - a side benefit of their limiting the number of customers.
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