A person holding strawberries
Source: Pixabay

Add Strawberries to the List of Product and Food Shortages in 2021

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Dec. 6 2021, Published 1:53 p.m. ET

Amid the ongoing supply chain crisis, one thing or the other keeps getting added to the shortage list. The shortage trends have been shifting throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. One item that's hard to find in stores right now is strawberries. So, what's causing a strawberry shortage in 2021 and when will it end?

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Food shortages are concerning for grocery stores and consumers. According to Bloomberg, many groceries store chains and major stores like Walmart, Kroger, Food Lion, Todos Supermarket, CVS, and others had a meeting with President Biden on Nov. 29. Biden addressed the concerns and mentioned that his administration has made strides towards supply chain disruptions.

There's rising demand for fresh produce.

Not only supply disruptions but a steep rise in demand is also contributing to these shortages. According to a Blog Post by the White House, through mid-November, imports are up by 16 percent compared to the U.S.’s previous peak in 2018. In contrast, the stocks at grocery stores and drug stores have remained at the same level as before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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strawberry production wea
Source: Pixabay

The shortage in food items and the rise in input prices have also led to an increase in consumer prices. The U.S. consumer price index rose by 6.2 percent in October 2021 compared to the same month last year, which is also its fastest rate of growth since 1990.

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The rise in strawberry demand has been driven by consumers’ changing preferences. More people have been making health-conscious decisions since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

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Why is the strawberry supply constrained?

According to a Reddit post in November from Central Texas, “Strawberries were limited to 4 per transaction last week and they were sold out at 7 this morning.”

According to The Packer, in November, 21 produce industry organizations in Canada and the U.S. issued a joint statement that called for urgent government action to address the ongoing supply chain disruptions. These organizations also included the California Strawberry Commission and many other fruit and vegetable associations.

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Supply chain issues contribute to the strawberry shortage.

Several disruptions have been hurting the flow of perishable commodities. Port congestion has been one of the biggest culprits. For highly perishable commodities like strawberries, long delays could mean loss of product. The truck driver shortage is also causing more congestion and delivery delays.

There's also a significant labor shortage in the fresh produce industry throughout the supply chain, which is impacting planting, harvest, packing, and transportation. Apart from these, input shortages are also plaguing the industry. Inputs like fertilizers, crop protection products, pallets, cardboard, and packaging are in short supply, which is impacting the production and distribution of the produce.

Rain in October has impacted strawberry produce.

While these issues are impacting most fresh produce, strawberries are facing another issue. According to Fresh Plaza, the October rains have caused wind scarring and soft fruit in California. This has caused the volume to trend below last year’s numbers. The volume is expected to continue to be on the lower side until the Central Mexican, Florida, Oxnard spring crops start in December.

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