Current Food Shortages – What Your Business Will Have Trouble Getting Right Now

current food shortages

Food shortages and delays have been reported across the United States, pinned, in part, on rising consumer demand amid the easing of coronavirus restrictions. The supply chain issues the US economy is currently facing are not only impacting consumers, but they are taking their toll on small businesses. Businesses that require a robust supply of food, such as restaurants and cafes, are beginning to feel pinch of the shortages.

The most recent US Census Small Business Pulse Survey, carried out from October 11 to October 17, shows that 45% of businesses say they are experiencing delays with domestic suppliers. This represents a 26.7% increase from the first week of 2021.

Certain regions of the country are more adversely affected than others. As Kevin Hourican, Chief Executive Officer of Sysco, the largest wholesale food distributor in the US, comments:

“There are certain areas across the country that are more challenged by the labor shortage, and our volume of order is regularly exceeding our capacity. This has, unfortunately, led to service disruptions for some of our customers.”

Current Food Shortages

Specific products are also more difficult to find.

Take a look at 15 food items that are currently difficult to find in the US.


With the holiday season approaching, turkeys are in hot demand. With factories being forced to shut last year due to the pandemic and grain prices soaring, amid strong consumer demand, getting hold of turkeys is proving challenging for small business owners.

Canned Food

2020 saw many manufacturers impacted by an aluminum shortage. With consumers stockpiling canned food, alongside the continued shortage of aluminum, canned food is in reduced supply.

Ketchup Packets

It’s safe to say, most fast food restaurants rely on ketchup packets to accompany burgers, wings and nuggets. Several restaurant chains have reported a shortage of Heinz ketchup packets, the US’s number one ketchup brand.

Carbonated Drinks

Small businesses that serve fizzy drinks are likely to be facing issues. Due to rocketing costs, fertilizer plants responsible for the production of carbon dioxide, are reducing their output, causing shortages in carbonated drink supply.

Pet Food

Small businesses that deal in pet food may be experiencing similar issues. The reasons for the diminishing supply of pet food are attributed to higher meat, soya, and corn prices.


Like turkey, chicken is also in short supply, resulting in many fast food restaurants cutting back on the chicken products on their menus. The shortage is now impacting grocery stores, which are struggling to find chicken suppliers.


Small businesses that deal in pumpkins may run into problems locating sufficient seasonal stock, particularly in Illinois, where the spread of fungus on many pumpkin crops had an adverse effect.

Oat Milk

Another product facing supply issues is oak milk. With the likes of Starbucks and FreshDirect announcing a temporary shortage of oat milk, small businesses stand even less of a chance securing this popular beverage.


Another meat in short supply is beef. In June this year, one of the largest beef suppliers in the world suffered a ransomware attack, and, as a result, beef is in short supply in many grocery stores.

Bottled Water

Businesses that supply bottled water are also running into problems, with the likes of Costco reporting shortages of bottled water.


Lunchables have seen a huge rise in demand, placing pressure on supply chains to provide stores and food outlets with the Kraft Heinz products they sell.


As NPR reports, in lockdown, demand for alcohol skyrocketed among consumers. With stock low, some liquor stores were forced to close. Several states are still witnessing an alcohol shortage, putting pressure on many small businesses who sell alcoholic drinks.


With a scarcity of wheat crops due to droughts and erratic temperatures, the price of bread has seen a sharp rise, something that is having an impact, not only on consumers, but on many small businesses too.

Toilet Paper

One of the first products to be hit by the pandemic due to soaring consumer demand was toilet paper. Industry has yet to keep up with demand, meaning many small businesses may be running into problems acquiring toilet paper.

Frozen Meals

Consumers have been rushing to get their hands on frozen meals throughout the health crisis. Small businesses that supply frozen meals may still be having trouble securing the product.

Image: Depositphotos

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. She is based in the United Kingdom and since 2006, Gabrielle has been writing articles, blogs and news pieces for a diverse range of publications and sites. You can read "Gabrielle’s blog here.".