UPPER SADDLE RIVER, NJ – As coronavirus (COVID-19) rips through the US, consumers have been panic-buying groceries and necessities. In turn, the unprecedented consumer demand has resulted in many supermarkets across the US drastically increasing the amount of products ordered from suppliers.
According to The Food Institute, it’s been typical over the last two decades for grocers to keep 4-6 weeks of stock on hand. But as shoppers have continuously emptied the shelves almost as soon as they can be restocked over the last few weeks, retailers are ordering approximately three months of supply at a time.
“We were all surprised,” General Mills’ chief executive officer, Jeff Harmening, said to The Food Institute. “We did not come into the quarter with elevated levels of inventory in the US or frankly anywhere.”
Due to increased demand, manufacturers and distributors are making as much product as processing plants can push out and delivering as quickly as possible. Both suppliers and retailers are also adding additional staff.
Instead of shipping products to their own warehouses, many manufacturers are delivering food directly to retailers, and instead of relying on algorithms to predict how much of each product to order, retailers and suppliers are making decisions together in real time.
The Food Institute reports that grocers like Albertsons are also sending their own trucks to warehouses for larger loads and hiring more drivers.
Grocers are making the right move in ordering increased supply loads. Many retailers are selling out of typical three-month supplies in approximately 10 days. According to a survey by Blue Yonder, 90% of consumers reported experiencing shortages of items on the shelves, and a third said that most items were out of stock.