At the start of the pandemic, it seemed like every day was bringing a new supply shortage to the big grocery stores – first toilet paper, then flour and yeast for the baking craze, then the meat area thinned as things dragged on. Costco’s large warehouses provided some of the most visible glimpses of the bottlenecks as their clear communications and strict restrictions that allow fair access to all customers made the headlines.
The uncertainty about what might be lost in the warehouses is because, unlike previous shortages, it doesn’t come from buyers clearing their shelves as they store, but from a more surprising source: Freight container.
The global problem is due to a shortage of containers and bottlenecks in west coast shipping ports, including Costco’s hometown of Seattle, as well as Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. “There are a lot of goods that are containerized offshore to get in while there is a shortage of containers,” Blake Anderson, president of the American Dairy Products Institute, told USA Today.
Richard Galanti, CFO of Costco, says beyond cheese, customers can expect potential shortages in other edible products such as seafood and olive oil, as well as housewares, gardening and exercise equipment – all things that the pandemic has apparently been driving demand for. In addition to delaying product arrivals, the problems also increase costs along the supply chain.
It will probably take a few months to resolve the shipping problem. So if you’re a big fan of Costco’s cheddar, brie, or mozzarella, be sure to grab some of them on your next trip to the store.