Supply issues expected to impact grocery stores this holiday: 'I can't find cranberries!'

Experts say perishable items like dairy and meat are particularly susceptible to supply problems.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Grocery stores will soon be packed with those last-minute Thanksgiving shoppers.

The question is: will those shoppers be able to find everything they need?

Action News found one couple at Acme in Bala Cynwyd who has their Thanksgiving shopping all but done.

"Put it in the big freezer," said Ademona Ogundele of Merion Station. "And all the bread and ingredients that go with it."

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But there's one ingredient they still can't find.

"I like to make cranberry sauce from scratch, but I can't find cranberries!" said Patricia Ogundele, who says she's tried multiple stores with no luck.

Action News also checked in with Wegmans Food Markets.

A spokesperson issued this statement saying, "Raw material and labor shortages, as well as transportation constraints, are impacting businesses the most, and it's expected to last well into next year. While we continue to have some out of stocks in our stores, we're in good shape for our customers' upcoming holiday celebrations."

While grocery store shelves now are nothing like the early days of the pandemic, labor shortages and supply chain problems mean prices have gone up this year.

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In the Philadelphia area, food at home prices have gone up 4% between April and October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And meat, poultry, fish and eggs are up 9.5% in the same period.

"Everything is so high. A ham that we might've paid $12 for last year is over $20 now," said Pam Sessoms of Wynnefield.

And holiday demand will likely make things worse.

Kathleen Iacocca, professor of management and operations at Villanova University, says you might be able to save some money by shopping local, even if it's within a chain retailer.

"The stores that were proactive and really started to focus on picking up more suppliers, developing that stronger relationship with local suppliers, are the ones that we see that have more stocked shelves right now," said Iacocca. "Locally sourced food does not have as long of a supply chain, so it doesn't have the same labor costs and shortages and the same distribution costs that we see for other items."

Experts say perishable items like dairy and meat are particularly susceptible to supply problems.

Another tip from Iacocca: be realistic and flexible about where you shop, what brands you buy and what's on your grocery list.

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