Potatoes Get Added the List of 2021 Food Shortages

Mohit Oberoi, CFA - Author

Dec. 23 2021, Published 8:12 a.m. ET

The year is now drawing to a close. While 2021 has been good for investors and the S&P 500 looks set for its third consecutive year of double-digit returns, it has also been marred with shortages of several essential and daily use goods. Now, potatoes have made it to the list of food products that are in short supply.

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The food shortages in 2021 weren't limited to human foods. Some pet foods have also been hard to find, leaving pet owners scrambling for supplies.

Which products were in short supply in 2021?

In 2021, daily use goods in short supply have included diapers, toilet paper, and packaging material. Restaurants and food chains also grappled with shortages of things like straws, cups, and lids.

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global food shortage  what is in short supply
Source: Unsplash

Food products in short supply in 2021 have included baby food, Hot Cheetos, cream cheese, strawberries, and small turkeys (which were especially hard to find before Thanksgiving). We also had a shortage of poultry products, including chicken wings.

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What''s been driving the supply shortages?

While demand spiked in 2021, supply didn't keep up. Adverse weather conditions and labor shortages also took a toll on processed food production.

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If this weren't already the perfect storm, there were supply-chain issues as well, both domestically and internationally. It took longer for products to reach one country from another amid container shortages, and even when products arrived at ports, they were overcrowded. The shortage of truck drivers to transport food products inland didn't help matters, either. And to make things even worse, there was panic buying as people around the world stocked up on essentials.

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U.S. potato production has fallen in 2021

Last year, farmers in the U.S. had to destroy millions of potatoes, as there were no buyers. Now, in 2021, U.S. potato production has slowed. The USDA estimates production will be 2 percent lower year-over-year.

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Potatoes are also in short supply in Japan

In Japan, which is also experiencing a spud shortage, McDonald’s has had to ration french fries, From Dec. 24, only small packs will be available. The company blamed global supply chain issues and flooding near the Port of Vancouver for the shortage of potatoes. Japan depends on imports for several food products and is the largest market in Asia for U.S. frozen potato products.

The global food situation is expected to get better in 2022

The global food situation is expected to get better in 2022 as supply-chain issues ease and demand dies down and supplies catch up. The spread of COVID-19, however, could lead to new supply-chain problems.


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