After the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole world is looking to resume its normal life. We all want to go back to those pre-pandemic times, when we did not have all the complications that there are today in terms of international travel and cargo transport. Moreover, as we all know, there is a war conflict that does not help, and rather worsens the situation.
Thus, since the end of last year, we have all noticed the shortage of some foods that it was normal to find on the shelves of our supermarkets before. Americans are not used to food deficits, at least not since World War II. And yet here we are, learning to live the new normal.
The missing items in supermarkets
“It’s spotty, it’s not a widespread situation,” says Katie Denis, vice president of research for the Consumer Brands Association, which represents the consumer packaged goods industry, including large-scale companies like General Mills and Kellogg’s. “It’s not like at the beginning of the pandemic when people went out and cleared shelves to stockpile and panicked.” That’s the voice of the industry, and still we are seeing some lacking of items in the store, or some perceptible price hikes.
We are all fans of hummus and falafel, the food that the Middle East gave us and that has become a world heritage. But we have seen how the global supply of chickpeas, its main ingredient, has decreased due to the fact that the war in Ukraine is having effects on the planting of this legume. Both Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s most important suppliers of chickpeas, and the war conflict has caused problems in both planting, harvesting and export.
Again, we have to look at Ukraine to talk about the shortage of wheat flour and the rise in the prices of its derivatives worldwide. The Eastern European country is one of the main producers, but its difficulties are not the only cause of the global shortage of wheat: the government of India enacted a law to ban exports of the grain, in order to protect the food security of its population.
It may be time to ditch the pasta and move on to rice recipes for a while, until things calm down a bit.
The next item could make you worry: according to Reuters, Brazil recently diverted more sugarcane to ethanol production, instead of making sugar for human consumption. This is due to the high energy prices in the country, and ethanol is being used in many countries as an additive to gasoline.
Mexican avocado is the most desired in the world. There is simply no comparison: other countries like Chile or Australia are trying to compete, but the quality of Mexican is superior, and by far. There is a shortage of avocados in the United States due to the fact that the government temporarily suspended imports of this fruit at the beginning of 2022, after an American plant safety inspector based in Mexico received a threat.
American inspectors are stationed in Mexico to verify whether Mexican avocados can be safely exported to the United States, free from weather problems and produced under ethical and legal circumstances.
During the first months of the pandemic, when we all thought we were going to be locked up for a long time, we were invaded by paranoia and panic: I remember myself running to Costco to buy giant bags with dozens of rolls of toilet paper, so that I would never run out.
The pandemic has decreased a little in intensity, but there is still a shortage of paper in supermarkets. Why? Once again, the war in Ukraine is the reason. The supplies of cellulose for the production of this product are being interrupted. There are two variables that can happen in the next year: that you will not find paper on the supermarket shelves, or that it will rise astronomically in price.