Be mindful of shortages this holiday season, local experts say

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 1:03 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - From eggs to Christmas trees, some of your favorite goods may be in short supply this holiday season.

“There’s a lot of product headed for our country that right now can’t be delivered,” said Gary Joiner, Director of Communications for the Texas Farm Bureau. “The question is about distribution--can it be delivered, can it be processed?
There are many factors leading into those interruptions, and we’re waiting to see if those can be worked out in plenty of time for the holidays.”

“Factors” like labor shortages and transportation and packaging issues.

“Some of those packaging materials the cardboards, the aluminums, the plastics, glassware, those are needed for products produced here in the country and brought from other sources, so it really affects everything from a food supply standpoint,” said Joiner.

According to Joiner, traditional holiday foods are still being produced--some in ample supply--but getting them into stores, and onto people’s tables, is what’s in jeopardy.

“The pandemic still has some impacts, and it’s really on the labor side,” said Joiner. “The raw commodities are available, it’s just a question of can you package them, can you transport them to the retail outlets that we count on.”

From backed-up ports to rising fuel prices, the U.S. is facing major supply chain problems.

However, the Waco-area won’t be hit s hard by the effects, according to officials with the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.

“For decades now, Greater Waco has had a very diverse industry base which provides a buffer against any national or international trends that hit a single sector harder than others,” said Seth Morris, Vice President of Economic Development for the Waco Chamber.

According to Morris, at almost 18 percent, with 22,400 individuals employed in the sector, “trade, transportation and utilities” is the Waco metropolitan statistical area’s single largest segment of industry, and manufacturing is 12 percent, which is 40 percent above the state average.

“It is probably safe to say that international supply chain pressures, ranging not only from the container ships and longshoremen and labor availability, but what happens once stateside (truck fleets, lower industrial warehouse vacancy rates, etc.), is going to continue to positively reinforce the ‘reshoring and domestic manufacturing capacity’ trend that has been taking hold for several years now,” said Morris.

While national supply chain trends may not hit the Waco economy as hard as others, consumers will still see some shortages and price hikes, experts say.

Still, Joiner says there’s no need to rush to stores to stock-pile goods.

“Practice normal shopping habits, get those items when you normally do, I think be mindful that,” said Joiner. “In some cases there will be supplies that are more limited, there’s even some retail outlets that are limiting the number of items you can purchase when you’re in their store.”

Stores like Costco recently brought back purchasing limits on certain items.

While items may cost more or be more difficult to find, Joiner says it won’t be anything like the empty shelves we saw at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“We still have some of those disruptions but not nearly to the extent of when the pandemic first hit,” said Joiner. “We won’t have those again this holiday season, but some items may be in shorter supply than others.”

One food item that will surely be in short supply in Texas this year and for years to come, Joiner says, is citrus due to Winter Storm Uri in Feb. 2020.

“It really knocked back our citrus that we use in holiday gift baskets that are so popular,” said Joiner.

According to the Texas Farm Bureau, Uri caused over $600 million in agricultural losses with citrus crops in the Rio Grande Valley the hardest hit with reported initial losses of at least $230 million.

“We still have the safest and most affordable and most available food supply in the country, and I think we’re blessed to have that and this holiday season,” said Joiner.

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