(NEXSTAR) – A combination of severe weather in recent weeks and supply chain headaches linked to COVID-19 have once again left some U.S. grocery store shelves bare.
The omicron variant has exacerbated pandemic-era stocking challenges by spreading quickly through workforces at every level of the industry, just as it has in professional sports, on Broadway and in the airline industry.
President and CEO of Conagra Brands Sean Connolly warned investors last week that the workers who help prepare frozen vegetables, Slim Jim snacks and other products have been hit hard by the virus. Connolly said that omicron-related absences are expected to slow U.S. plants for at least the next month.
Supermarket chains like Stew Leonard’s, which has locations in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, had four times as many sick or quarantined employees – roughly 200 – last week as they usually do, CEO Stew Leonard Jr. told the Associated Press.
The end result has frustrated shoppers searching for various items, Google found, but it varies by state when it comes to these trending searches last week: “cream cheese shortage,” “chicken shortage,” “potato shortage” and “hot Cheeto shortage.”
Of the four, hot Cheetos were the most searched for in California and Arizona, while New Mexico was most worried about a potato shortage. A possible chicken shortage was a concern across a broad swathe of the country, from Oregon down to Texas and northeast to Massachusetts. Bagels appeared to be on the minds of shoppers along the eastern seaboard, where “cream cheese shortage” was the dominant search.
Wyoming and Montana showed up gray at the time of publishing because they didn’t have the same level of interest as other states.