Virus fears causing Grocer shortages


By Ralph Dickerson
Public fear over the coronavirus, commonly called COVID-19, resulted in many items becoming hard to find. Ironically, though a respiratory disease, it caused a run on toilet paper, with people stocking up on massive supplies of the item. Other scarce items include milk, bread, meats, potatoes and sanitation cleaners.
“ A lot of it is just hoarding,” Wayne Stephens of Bill’s IGA in Hawesville said. “We are having all kinds of trouble getting meat.”
Linda Payne, the store manager at Crossroads IGA in Lewisport said the grocery also encountered some trouble getting toilet paper, milk and potatoes to the store.
“I can’t keep potatoes in,” she said.
With so many people trying to purchase massive quantities of milk, bread, potatoes, meat and disinfectant cleaners both Bill’s IGA and Crossroads IGA limit these items to one per customer. Stephens said only one or two of the store’s customers complained about the rationing.
“Our customers have been really considerate of us putting limits on it,” Stephens said. “They have been considerate of other people needing those products.”
While both stores encountered trouble getting perishable items stocked by suppliers, no such trouble exists for nonperishable canned items. With the continuing panic, suppliers also limit the availability of supplies made available to grocery stores.
“Suppliers limit what we can order,” Payne said. “We cannot over order.”
Stephens agreed.
Both grocery stores receive delivery trucks twice per week. Bill’s IGA receives stock trucks on Monday and Thursday, and Crossroads IGA receives stock on Tuesdays and Fridays. In addition, Bill’s receives meat shipments four times per week. Though the stores place their orders, no guarantee exists they receive everything ordered.
“Suppliers are out of a lot of stuff,” Stephens said.
For example, Stephens said they order meat from three to four different suppliers, and three different suppliers for disinfectant products. The current virus scare puts a tremendous strain on the supply chain.
“There is no reason the supply chain should be out of products except sanitizers,” Stephens said. “Sanitizer should be what people use the most.”
He said the supply chain should be able to meet the demands for other high volume items such as milk, bread, potatoes and even toilet paper.
As of Monday afternoon, Kentucky reported just over 100 cases of the coronavirus, with three deaths. Most experts expect the number of cases to ramp up over the next few weeks as the virus continues to spread across the country.

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