Back of customer standing in front of butcher’s counter in supermarket

Around the same time last year, panic buying from consumers decimated the baking aisle at my local supermarket. I know this because I tried in vain to find yeast and flour for three good weeks. By the time the grocery store shelves returned to a somewhat normal state, I had developed a permanent chip on my shoulder towards the neighbors I saw scurrying around with 20 cans of chicken noodle soup in their carts. But now the supermarkets themselves are stocking up, loading some produce before the grocery store experiences “one of the highest price increases in recent memory.” the the Wall Street newspaper reports.

WSJ cited Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., the nation’s largest grocery wholesaler, as an example. The company recently purchased up to 20% more inventory, mostly packaged shelf-stable foods, in anticipation of upcoming price increases from large companies such as General Mills Inc., Campbell Soup Co. and JM Smucker Co. “When you have a unique inflation period like now, it’s a binge eating,” said Tony Sarsam, CEO of Michigan-based food retailer and distributor SpartanNash Co.

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WSJ explains that supermarket storage is a burden on an already stretched US food supply chain. The grocery industry is grappling with transportation costs, ingredient shortages, and a reduced workforce (at least, at current grocery store wages), which you can learn more about here. Interestingly, consumers have yet to feel the effects of these large price increases, in large part because the markets continue to burn their stocks. While you may notice a slight increase in the cost of some of your commodities, retailers would try to keep prices low to compete with discounted or low-cost chains like Walmart and Aldi. WSJ reports. But with a barely restored food supply chain and perhaps permanently altered consumer purchasing habits, you must be asking yourself: How much more can our fragile food economy support?

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