It’s a cliche to say hindsight is 20/20, but as shortages and supply chain issues continue, it definitely feels valid for shoppers. If only we could go back and tell our pre-pandemic selves to buy extra hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
Certainly, some supply chain shortages and disruptions caused by the pandemic — and, in some cases, panic buying — have eased. For instance, the waiting-list-only demand for bicycles is mostly resolved.
However, other shortages remain challenging and are unlikely to be solved soon.
Why Supply Chain Problems Are Here to Stay
Periodic shortages of popular goods are not unprecedented, but supply chain issues may be a long-term problem.
Multiple supply chain issues — such as already fragile global supply chains, production capacity, climate change, labor and trucker driver shortages and backups at major ports and warehouses — have converged to create the perfect storm.
We can’t always predict when some products will be back in stock (i.e., parents still struggling to find baby formula), but you can shop now and avoid higher prices and empty shelves later.
Here are 15 products expected to be affected by supply chain shortages and heavy consumer demand in the coming months.
- Cereal, bread, flour
- Dairy products
- Frozen foods
- Christmas trees
- Tomato products
- Olive oil
- Canned goods
- Bottled water
- Liquor and beer
15 Things You Should Stock Up Now to Avoid Shortages
But first, don’t give in to the temptation of panic buying. Artificial demand can create supply chain disruption — think the great toilet paper shortage of 2020.
Picking up a few extra items or buying early is a smart way to stock up, though, without emptying store shelves for other shoppers.
1. Cereal, Bread and Flour
If it’s made out of grain, specifically wheat, it will only get more expensive. The price of grains is soaring due to the war in Ukraine, stressing the world’s wheat supply. So squirrel away a few extra cereal boxes or a big bag of flour for the winter.
If you know you’re going to need new tires or snow tires, you should buy them soon. There’s a tire shortage looming due to low rubber production impacted both by the pandemic and climate change and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Manufacturers are also warning that transporting tires through supply lines fast enough to meet demand will be tricky this year due to trucking capacity.
Champagne shortages started with a drought affecting the crop in early 2022, and a glass shortage has compounded the issues. Experts anticipate champagne won’t dry up, but it’ll be pricey and scarce. Save the party and stock up now ahead of New Year’s Eve.
4. Dairy Products
Dairy products have seen steep price increases and periodic shortages in the past year or two. Prices for dairy staples aren’t expected to ease for a few months.
If you see a sale on milk, butter and even certain types of cheese, stock up. You can freeze most dairy products for a month or longer.
5. Frozen Foods
Convenience meals, specifically freeze-dried veggies, are in higher demand than ever due to their longer shelf life. Consumer appetite has also grown for foods that aren’t affected by local crops or seasonal weather.
If you’ve got a chest freezer, sock away a few extra bags of frozen foods your family uses often.
6. Christmas Trees
If you experienced the pain of scouting out a fresh Christmas tree during the pandemic, this probably isn’t your year either.
Due to drought, live Christmas trees will remain in short supply. You might want to buy an artificial tree at a discount before the season is in full swing.
7. Tomato Products
Due to extreme drought, California is struggling to keep the tomato crop from going under this year. That means higher prices for everything tomato, including staples like salsa, marinara sauce, and even ketchup (gasp!).
Toss a few extra bottles of anything tomato into your cart in the coming weeks to see some savings later.
Talk about scary! Hershey sounded the alarm this summer that Halloween candy supplies might be stressed by cacao shortages and the war in Ukraine.
October is the busiest time of the year for chocolate consumption, driving 10% or more of Hershey’s annual profits. To avoid higher demand at Halloween, grab supplies for trick-or-treaters — and hide or freeze them — now.
When drought hits, farmers must decide which crops to water and which to abandon. Corn isn’t super profitable, but gets prioritized for animal fodder. Popcorn, however, might get the cold shoulder. Combined with increased movie theater attendance, popcorn supplies could be a problem, so tuck away some to snack on later.
10. Olive Oil
Heat waves in Spain are threatening the olive harvest this year. This means — you guessed it — olive oil supplies are threatened. Get ahead by buying one more bottle of olive oil next time you shop.
Extra-virgin olive oil should be kept in a cool, dark place and stored for up to 20 months.
You’re in luck if you’ve got a healthy peach tree in your backyard or access to a local farmer’s supply. Buy these stone fruits as you can and blanch, freeze or can them. The peach crop this year fell victim to a late spring freeze in the South and is leaving some produce aisles bare this season.
12. Canned Goods
Aluminum shortages mean everything in a can gets more expensive, from beans to beer and soda. Stocking up on canned goods before the price escalates is smart since you can keep them around for years. And it’s an excellent time to replenish that emergency food supply anyway.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and climate change mean chickpea crop yields are down by as much as 20% this year, spelling bad news for vegans and hummus lovers everywhere.
Grab canned or dry chickpeas now to avoid the higher prices later but be aware that hummus only keeps a short while in the fridge.
14. Bottled Water
Because of the global supply chain, shortages in the UK can mean shortages everywhere. Panic buying bottled water strains an already frazzled supply chain and empties shelves.
If you regularly use bottled or distilled water, pick up an extra jug to restock your supplies before they dry up stateside.
15. Liquor and Beer
Don’t panic, but pretty much everything in a glass bottle or aluminum can is vulnerable to price increases and shortages right now. That includes liquor and beer — and even products you haven’t thought of, like maple syrup.
Replenishing the bar before the holidays hit might help your household avoid the bottleneck.
Buy Now, Save Later to Beat Supply Chain Issues
Shortages aren’t always predictable but anticipating supply chain disruptions can help shoppers get ahead of empty shelves. And if you have the space and funds to stock up now, those savings can really add up later.
Kaz Weida is a senior writer for Codetic.