At the beginning of the pandemic, it seemed like each day brought a new supply shortage to major grocery stores — first it was toilet paper, then flour and yeast for the baking craze, then as things dragged on longer, the meat section thinned out. Costco’s large warehouse stores offered some of the most visible glimpses into the shortages, as their clear communications and stringent limits to allow fair access to all their customers made headlines.
The uncertainty on what could go missing from the warehouse stores comes because unlike earlier shortages, this one doesn’t come from shoppers clearing shelves as they stock up, but from a more surprising source: shipping containers.
The worldwide issue is due to a shortage of containers and bottlenecks at West Coast shipping ports, including in Costco’s hometown of Seattle, as well as Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland. “There are lots of goods that are loaded in containers off the coasts trying to get in while there’s a shortage of containers here,” Blake Anderson, president of the American Dairy Products Institute told USA Today.
Costco CFO, Richard Galanti, says that beyond cheese, customers can expect to see potential shortages in other edible products such as seafood and olive oils, as well as home goods and garden and sports equipment — all things that the pandemic has apparently increased the demand for. Beyond the delay of the products arrivals, the issues also raise the costs along the supply chain.
The shipping issue is expected to take a few months to resolve, so if you’re a big fan of Costco’s cheddar, Brie, or mozzarella, you’ll want to grab some on your next trip to the store.