Supply disruptions have caused many major food chains to run out of key products. According to Reuters, at least nine of the companies surveyed admitted that they had to cut menus or change their routines.
It’s not just a matter of food shortages, but also the non-food component of their business, such as packaging. According to a Starbucks representative, the shortages are temporary and vary from place to place. For example, the chain’s restaurant in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has been short of iced green tea, cinnamon syrup, spinach, and feta cheese for months.
“We continue to work closely with our suppliers to replenish inventory as quickly as possible. And customers are encouraged to use our app to check the availability of the items they want,” the company said in a statement.
A source close to KFC shared that many of the chain’s locations were suddenly without paper bags, and a Subway restaurant complained about shortages of roast beef, grilled chicken, and spicy mustard.
However, the companies’ problems are not just caused by food shortages per se, but also by disruptions in the supply chain. Freight ships, cars, and trains became unprofitable to maintain when the pandemic shut down businesses and reduced the number of workers in farms, factories, and warehouses. The production of goods was also affected — everything from meat and vegetable oil to plastic and glass packaging was in short supply.
And now the growing number of COVID-19 vaccinated has triggered a surge in restaurants and other catering establishments, taking food manufacturers and suppliers by surprise. Barney Friends, a partner at food industry consultant Pentallect, believes that the long absence of anything on the menu “puts companies at risk of disappointing many of their customers” and losing them.
In early June, Starbucks had to remove oat milk drinks and some desserts from the menu because of a mismatch in supply with sharply increased demand amid the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.