Na Na pinches her pennies

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Food shortages and empty shelves

Gosh its hard to believe another once a month grocery day has gone by again.  I wanted you to see what I was seeing at the stores.  I also wanted some material to work with when playing in youtube.  I learn by doing.  I did three videos about the empty store shelves.  I haven’t yet learned how to splice them together and then edit out the bad parts.  I do apologize for the shaky camera.  If you watch any of the videos I have a question for you at the end of this post.

The shelves appeared to have more stuff than last month but I’m not convinced.  It seems to be a growing issue across the whole planet.  Do a youtube search for food shortages and empty shelves 2019 to see videos from all over.

Seriously I’m not wanting to panic anyone and I’m not advocating that you should suddenly become a doomsday prepper but something is going on.  Just when I believe I’ve found the answer it doesn’t fit which has me searching again for answers.  Is this the perfect storm of global climate change?  Is it a marketing ploy to have us spend more money?  Are “they” trying to scare us into hoarding food even if we can hardly afford the cost of food?  Am I afraid?  No, not yet, but I do want to talk about what I’m seeing.  I’m not scared.  I’m curious.  My curiosity sometimes gets the better of me.

What really puzzles me is why.  Why are there any empty shelves at all.  Why such a random variety of scarcity?  Many of the youtube videos about food shortages seem to be talking about Walmart.  I don’t shop at Walmart but this is happening at other stores too.

I didn’t say anything on the videos as I walked around because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself or the camera.  I don’t have a lot of memory space on the camera either so I did different videos in two different stores.  I thought I would have a steady hand if I held the camera on the cart but its shaky anyway.  I’m sorry about that.

The stores are putting on a good imitation of full shelves. They cleverly place items spread out at the front edge of the shelves hoping you won’t notice the empty space hidden behind. Other stores are putting the product out in the shipping boxes making it appear more abundant.  The fullest shelves are at eye level.  Am I seeing things?  The isle space appears wider these days.  What you don’t see are the stand alone display stands all over the isles.  I did see one or two but for the most part those have disappeared too.

In the whole store I saw only one truck cart in an isle.  I’m not even sure it was product about to be put on shelves.  It just had the appearance of ready to stock items but there was no one around putting it on the shelves.  Hmm, could this be the same truck cart I saw a month ago?

When I walked past the can milk area it too was scarce as well.  How can that be when dairy farms are dumping milk on the ground?  I also noticed a shortage of the Meijer brand powdered milk I like best.  The price is double what it was last year.  I bought two small bags for now.  Yes, I get powdered milk from senior commodities.  I use it for cooking but I don’t like the taste for drinking.  The commodity milk is heat dried but the Meijer milk is freeze dried.  Any freeze dried food has a more natural taste.

How can there be a food shortage when so much food is put into landfills every day?  Is all this hype some kind of marketing ploy to justify much higher costs?  Is it a new version of short-sizing trick?  Should we all start hoarding food?  Is this some new kind of Y2K or Mayan calendar threat to scare us again into becoming doomsday preppers?  I don’t know if the food shortage is real or imagined but I’m not going to stress over it.  God still provides.  This is just an oddity I would like to have answered and that’s all.

I’m planning more videos about how I do things if anyone is interested.  But first I need some help.  Please if you watch any of the videos please tell me if you hear the video sounds or music.  I was flagged as having copyright music on my videos because the stores play elevator music from the ceilings which the camera picked up as I walked.  There isn’t any mute button in the youtube video editor so I inserted youtube copyright free music.  I hope it worked.  I need a name for a youtube channel that reflects my blog content.  Something short, unique, and easy to remember.  Any suggestions?

34 comments on “Food shortages and empty shelves

  1. 4paws2love2
    September 23, 2019

    Because of the weather this year, a lot of crops were wiped out, and there are shortages of those items. Our farmers have no cantaloupe, or watermelon this year, the fields were flooded out. We don’t see squash for the same reason. If there is nothing to sell there will be nothing on the shelves.

    Like

    • Anita
      September 24, 2019

      Thanks. I suspected that was true.

      Like

  2. Debby
    September 22, 2019

    The stores look pretty full to me. I have not noticed shortages in Minnesota at all. We do shop at Sam’s Club a lot, and some items they carry disappear for awhile, then come back. All in all I feel blessed by all the choices and availability.

    Like

    • Anita
      September 22, 2019

      That’s the point I was trying to make. The shelves are made to look full by spacing out and pulling to the front but behind it was empty spaces. Whatever was going on seems to be over. When I went to Kroger on Friday the shelves did have more than before and the produce area was much fuller.

      Like

  3. Tracy
    September 17, 2019

    I’m not seeing shortages like you describe yet, but there are way fewer products and choices then 5 years ago- I finally found a piece of my favorite cheese, I have searched for it every time I decided to buy a special treat ( it was $7.50 for 6 oz and I enjoyed every bite! But even if I could get it it’s not in my daily budget )

    Anyway, the reason I could not get it was it has too short a shelf life making it expensive to carry. There’s certainly no shortage of long-life processed foods my body doesn’t like…

    Like

    • Anita
      September 17, 2019

      A special treat now and then makes it especially good. The shortages, even when not in all stores, are troubling to me because its an indication prices will be going up.

      Like

      • Tracy
        September 17, 2019

        I am hoping my a1c is normal again, it’s definitely cost a lot more for better diet ( and not eating bananas, my go-to cheap favorite healthy carb ) plus the dr appointments and medication and tests.

        Definitely increases appreciation though as you say, my next banana will be an event!

        Hope you are doing ok with a1c.

        Like

        • Anita
          September 22, 2019

          I’ll know my A1C results the end of this week. I’m pretty sure the results will be higher but I’m very ready to start over again. Never give up!

          Like

  4. Selena
    September 16, 2019

    While “out with the old, in with the new” and labor for restocking makes sense, it is not normal and certainly a recent occurrence.

    One other thought I had is preppers, restaurant, and “event” purchases. Over the years, I’ve seen one size of an item or two completely wiped off the shelves. I’ve seen people stocking (and maybe overstocking?) up. I’ve seen the owners of local restaurants buying a cart full of “whack-em” biscuits and other items. “Event” shoppers with condiments (family reunion/picnic), spaghetti sauce, pasta (spaghetti dinner fund raiser?). But not every time I shop.

    There’s been a few times I’m behind a person in the checkout line who has two (and one time three) carts full of food. One of those times, the cashier made a comment – a lot of food and good thing you brought help. The woman stated they only came to town every other month as it was a long drive and she cooked from scratch. And no, I did not have to wait for all three carts, the woman was almost done checking out. She also paid cash. This occurred almost 30 years ago so I can just imagine what the total cost would be today!

    Like

    • Nicole A.
      September 24, 2019

      We go shopping about once a month. My husband will pick up some perishables on his way home (discounted meat, bananas, milk to make yogurt, etc), but most of our shopping happens once a month. We sometimes fill up two carts as we shop at Grocery Outlet, and you never quite know what they’ll have. One time they had big bags of almond flour (usually $20 a bag) for $9.99 a bag. I bought like 15, as my husband can’t eat any starches. We’ve been known to wipe out stuff we like, but since there’s different stuff there every week, it’s not like we’re going and buying enough to make the shelved empty. They also have never looked empty, but maybe that’s because they’re an outlet store and don’t have to stalk predetermined types of food?

      My husband has noticed that the shelves at Walgreens are empty. They’ve put advertisements on the shelves, rather than things! I need to get him to take a picture!

      Like

  5. Sue
    September 16, 2019

    I think part of the “shortages” can be attributed to poor store management. I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Meijer is headquartered, but shop at the “ethnic store” (I live in an area near big fruit farms and a lot of the Hispanic farm workers shop there.) Management doesn’t seem to care if the shelves don’t have the sale items stocked.
    Sometimes if an item I want isn’t on the shelf, I ask an employee why. Usually, it’s just that nobody has gotten around to restocking. Other times things have “sold out”.
    Occasionally, I’ve had to tell someone that they’ve been out of pickled beets or rutabagas for several weeks before anyone realizes that the department manager has forgotten to order them.

    Like

    • Sue
      September 16, 2019

      The “ethnic store” is the local Meijer store.
      The stores in your videos look bigger than the Meijer store where I shop. Your stores also seem to have more choices.
      I wish the employees at our Meijer would bring items to the front of the shelves. I’m only 4′ 11″ and it seems like I’m always asking someone to get something I want from way in the back of the shelf.
      I buy a lot of stuff at Aldi. We also have “Daily Deals” stores that sell stuff that is past the “best if used by” date and overstock from other stores.
      I couldn’t tell what the prices were at the store. If you had talking instead of music, it would have been more interesting.
      For a name, “Making Ends Meet”, or “Nana Makes Do”. Or thinking back to the ’60s, “Veteran of the War on Poverty” or “Poverty Warrior”.

      Like

      • Anita
        September 17, 2019

        The Meijer here is a mega store. They sell as much as (or maybe more) than walmart and its better quality. Meijer is my favorite store but my SIL prefers Kroger. I like Aldi too. I got flagged as violating copyright on my videos. The overhead music. The only way I could get rid of the copyright violation was to override it with copyright free music. There isn’t a “mute” button when uploading to youtube. I’ll try to do more videos (or maybe photos) of the prices. Hmm.. I’m only an inch taller than you. I ask for help getting things off high shelves too.

        Like

    • Anita
      September 17, 2019

      I also ask store managers when something I need has not been restocked for a long time. Sometimes the item has been moved to the “specialty” section because of low sales. In my area Meijer is a mega store. They sell as much as or maybe more than walmart.

      Like

  6. Margie from Toronto
    September 16, 2019

    I have to be honest – I don’t see much of a shortage in the videos. The most gaps that I could see were in the meats and other perishables sections and I do think that stores in general are being more careful with what they order for these sections as there is a fairly short shelf life and any expired or even BB has to be thrown out. Since a lot of these stores have been taking flack for this sort of wastage perhaps they are just being more cautious.
    Also – it depends upon which time you are shopping. Large stores such as these ones have night crews that come in when the stores are closed to do the restocking so shelves would be most full first thing in the morning.
    Third, this is the time of year when old stock is being moved out in order to make way for the new – often with changed packaging and a change in sizes so this may also be a consideration. I would expect to see the new stock hitting the stores around the end of Sept. as they start to amp up for the holiday season. Again, many of the gaps at the end of aisles seemed to involve sale items – which you would expect to go quickly – and again, may be because of new packaging or other changes and this is old stock.
    These large stores also now order through a central computerized system but there have been a lot of glitches and complaints from store managers about not receiving their orders on time or the central office deciding that they really don’t need all that they’ve ordered. They go by statistics rather than listening to those on the spot and it causes a lot of headaches for the local people. It’s not due to a lack of things being available but rather head office trying to maximize profit and minimize waste.

    Like

    • Anita
      September 16, 2019

      We were there mid morning on a weekday. You could be right. I guess I’m just used to seeing shelves packed full (two and three layers high) and isles with so much stuff you have to weave your way through.

      Like

  7. Cynthia
    September 16, 2019

    I hear store sounds in the first video and music in the second and third.

    Like

    • Anita
      September 16, 2019

      Thanks Cynthia. Those are the two that were flagged as having copyright material. I wasn’t sure if I had covered it up or not.

      Like

  8. captnmike
    September 16, 2019

    Stores have always moved stock to the front so it can be seen better. Maybe with cutting back on labor costs probably cheaper to send a person around during the day to move forward than to restock a few items.

    And yes maybe also a subtle marketing thing, you see less of an item on the shelf and you buy two and not the one you need – but that should be a temporary buy for the consumer since if I use one box of say cereal a week, then once I “stock up just in case” with say three or four boxes and not the one or two that I used to keep I should go back to buying one box a week on average.

    Yes the climate is changing and that would affect some availability as would changing eating habits.

    So not sure what to think, maybe people are more sensitive now since it sounds like the new band wagon thing. Stranger things have happened. If enough people think something is in short supply and run out and buy that item, yes there might be a shortage for a while. Seems to me a DJ did that way back with toilet paper.

    Good luck detective, I will stay tuned 🙂

    Like

    • Anita
      September 16, 2019

      Toilet paper? I guess I better grab a couple hundred rolls before the crowd. 💩

      Like

      • Selena
        September 16, 2019

        Not sure about any recent TP “scares” but Johnny Carson (yes, I am dating myself) made a joke one night and caused a run (no pun intended) on TP!

        Like

        • Anita
          September 16, 2019

          Hee, hee, I remember Johnny Carson but I rarely got the chance to watch him. Early mornings getting hubby off to work and kids off to school.

          Like

  9. Selena
    September 15, 2019

    Part of me thinks that a) stores put items on end caps as *most* shoppers think the items are on sale and b) said shoppers will buy the items so they don’t miss out on “the sale”/good price.

    Like

    • Tracy
      September 20, 2019

      I picked up two boxes of gluten-free crackers on an end-cap-shelf yesterday because alongside was a buy 2 for $4 coupon. Instead they rang up at $4 each, so I asked the server and she changed it making it $7.56 including the 8% sales tax. I called her back again and finally got it charged at total $4.60 ( still technically wrong at 4 cents in my favor! ) I’m sure lots of people, in a hurry or not used to doing the math in their head will just pay the inflated price, and it happens frequently enough for me to think it’s not merely incompetence. We don’t like to appear pedantic- but unless I do I will overpay for things it seems!

      Like

  10. Selena
    September 15, 2019

    Yes there can be a shortage of milk even when dairy farmers are dumping milk. The prices they get are too low and I know some will feed to hogs instead of selling. Finding a milk hauler can be a challenge in some areas. There used to be A LOT of dairy farms in my area/areas around me. Not many left hence less local haulers. So it could be a shortage (hopefully temporary) of haulers.
    WI is no longer the dairy state (though they claim to be). CA is the big mild producer. I also wonder if more milk is going to cheese production.
    Crops are left to rot in the fields because there is NOT enough labor to pick them. I shall stay off my soapbox but the immigration “policy” is not helping. Nor is the trade situation.
    I’ll have to put on my marketing hat and think about the channel name.

    Like

    • Anita
      September 15, 2019

      Thanks Selena. I’ve been answering the questions from your email. I’ll finish up tomorrow and send it. I used the name Granny Patches to open it but have been thinking it should be something to reflect what my channel is about.

      Like

  11. simplywendi
    September 15, 2019

    I have noticed that some shelves are not stocked as deep as they use to be. It makes me want to stock up on food as much as we are financially able. I would love to watch your videos and would love to know how to find it Anita, thank you! 🙂

    Like

    • Anita
      September 15, 2019

      Wendi I put a link to my youtube channel on the side bar. I’ve had it for a few years but never really did much with it. Mostly because I couldn’t take the time to set and learn. Now I find I want to use it to do more “how to” type videos showing how I live. Like using food bank foods or living without a refrigerator and stuff like that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • simplywendi
        September 16, 2019

        that sounds great…….I watch a lot of frugal vloggers and I am sure you will receive a lot of views!

        Like

  12. Linda in NE
    September 15, 2019

    I really think they are trying to justify the steady increase in prices. Seeing less & less make shoppers want more & more and be willing to pay any price to get it. I am so tired of shrinking contents & ever higher prices.

    Like

    • Anita
      September 15, 2019

      You and me both! The constant higher costs of everything is straining a lot of budgets these days.

      Like

      • Lynda
        September 16, 2019

        Most of what I could ID as empty were highly perishable and/or on one of Kroger’s big sales. Margie from Toronto, nailed that one!

        And also take into consideration, that there are those who want us all to be making a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour. Food costs are not just what you see on the shelf. There is the grower, picker, sorter, packer, shipper, receiver, stocker, and the list goes on. Many companies all along this food chain are buckling under to pay the $15 an hour wage.

        Like

        • Anita
          September 17, 2019

          That’s true.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Selena
          September 17, 2019

          Not enough people make a living wage these days. AND what it costs to live, even minimally comfortably, widely varies. I have little patience for those whose “solution” is for people to a) grow a garden, b) get a 2nd job, c) cut expenses, d) go back to school and get an education, e) move. One needs space and money to grow a garden, many already work 2 jobs, one can only cut so much, time and money to go back to school (still need money to live), and it takes money to move as well as finding new employment. Never mind that all this *might* be doable providing one is young and in good health. For too many, there is more month than money and *no* money left over to save.
          I do think the minimum wage should be higher AND based on the cost of living in an area. While we’re on the subject of cost of living, it is time for the formula that is used to determine inflation etc. to factor in ALL basics of life – food, heat, housing, medical/dental, clothing, insurance. And for the unemployment rate to include PT workers who lose his/her job. We are no longer a single wage earner in a blue collar job (mostly manufacturing) working 40 hours a week.
          It is high time for formulas to reflect the current reality of this country. IMHO, the inflation rate of 2.4 is bogus. The minimum wage is NOT tied to inflation (be it bogus or spot on). The days of pulling ones self up by his/her bootstraps is rare.
          Sorry to get on my soapbox.
          The future does not bode well for those who are not rich. Corporations already have too much control over food, medicine/medical etc. Those of us who are not rich need to stick together and not be distracted by issues that really don’t affect our ability to have shelter, medical, food, clothing, and a safe environment.

          Like

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This entry was posted on September 15, 2019 by in $10 a week food budget, 1940s (WW2) FOODS, ECONOMIC OBSERVATIONS, PREPAREDNESS.

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