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Food shortages irritate

The food shortage issues we currently face are getting beyond mildly irritating and are now bordering on thoroughly exasperating.

It seems a new shortage pops up every other day, and in many of the food groups that most households would expect to put in their shopping trolley.

Walking into a supermarket, one now has to hope the shortage hasn’t extended to yet another family favourite, or worse, an often-relied-upon staple.

Oh … that would include bread, then. And eggs. And potatoes.

I’ve had reports of some gatherers [not the hunters] getting to the supermarket right on opening time in an effort to get items that, according to rumour, are about to get scarce. You can hardly blame them, but it evokes none-too-pleasant memories of how we coped or rather didn’t cope, with our first attempts at not panicking when covid got serious.

Remember the long queues and trolleys overflowing with toilet rolls? One day we will look back and have a chuckle at the overreaction, although some will prefer to label it as not doing what the authorities told us to do.

There are many factors weighing in on the supply snafus, including that pesky covid.

In the first few weeks of 2023, public holiday disruptions, as well as those supply issues, left some shoppers with little more than crumbs for a choice in many of the staples.

Shoppers have had to put up with a one-loaf limit at the bread section. That came hard on the heels of a one-carton restriction at the egg shelves. I can’t recall supermarkets blaming public holidays for food shortages before. Sure, maybe a few luxury items, such as champagne and strawberries, were low in stock after the holiday period, but nothing like what we are experiencing today.

We have had a tough run at the grocery store for the past few months. Staff shortages have played a part, as they have in many sectors of our economy. Perhaps the biggest factor has been the atrocious and unseasonal weather. The impact of a summer soaking could have implications at the supermarket for a while yet.

Frankly, some items are now a “hit and miss” proposition.

I noticed that some fruits, usually abundant at this time of year, were missing from the produce section recently, and there have also been noticeable gaps in basic items such as tinned food, frozen food, cereals, pasta, and snacks.

I won’t go too deeply into the minefield that is the price of some fresh vegetables, but it seems that just as some vegetables are back to a more reasonable price, others are now in the unaffordable category. The seasonal aspect is always in play with regard to fruit and veges, but the price tags have sometimes looked more like Harrod’s than the local store.

As for the egg shortage, I can’t help but wonder why 10 years’ notice didn’t quite suffice for battery operators.

Egg producers said more than 75 per cent of chicken farmers were impacted due to a ban on battery-caged hens. The ban was announced in 2012, when 84 per cent of the country’s eggs were from battery farms.

That doesn’t look like great progress.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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