Upcoming food shortages?

Wanted to get thoughts and insight on the likelihood of food shortages as a result of this massive “third wave” of COVID-19 in the United States – I mean above and beyond panic buying but impacts to food manufacturing plants and transportation.  It seemed like earlier this year food shortages (empty grocery store shelves) were mostly the result of panic buying, however the meat industry was hit hard by the virus which resulted in decreased manufacturing output and plants being shut down for periods of time.  I am very concerned what this country wide surge in COVID-19 cases will do to the food industry as a whole (plants closing down due to a large number of infected employees on a wide-spread scale, etc).  


  • Comments (17)

    • 6

      My guess is that there could be ongoing and worsening food supply shortages. I live in a rural area in the upper Midwest, with a large town about 45 minutes away. I have made a point to support a local farmers’ cooperative by buying a CSA (community-supported agriculture) share. I’ve seen the freezer where meat is available for sale at my pick-up location.

      I’ve established a friendly connection with a different local farm selling meat. In both cases, I paid more money for food than by going to a “big box” store with a grocery department, but it’s an investment in knowing my neighbors in hopes they will sell to me if supplies get tight down the road.

      Speaking of food . . . I learned something about food for wild birds yesterday. A local shop said they’re having a hard time getting suet for birds, as well as a hard time getting the metal “shepherd’s crook” style poles for hanging bird feeders. They have been in business over 40 years, and this is the first time they’ve had supply chain issues.

      • 4

        That’s a really great idea to build those relationships.  I also live in a rural area (northern New England) and I hadn’t thought to do that – thank you for sharing I will look in to options up here for that.  

    • 8

      As a new prepper COVID-19 really opened my eyes as to how fragile our supply chain is and just how quickly and easily things could truly fall apart.

    • 4

      Source what you can locally and stay topped off. We now buy meat and eggs from area farmers and I’ve identified local sources for other things as ww need them. And we keep two freezers (wasn’t planned that way just happened) packed full. 

      • 8

        What are some tricks that I could use to find meat and eggs locally? I don’t know of any local farmers around me.

    • 7


      LNMOt, it’s not the COVID-19 causing the problems although the outbreak did affect many meat workers due to little or no health care programs.

      Above link, at left, lists the several critical infrastructure categories.  Food and ag is what must be read.  Don;t know if still around … maybe retired … but USDA had a scientist who had a great blog discussing all these shortages.

      From our perspective, it’s not food shortages but rather neglect to little concern about the endstream distribution measures.  Road maintenance is frequently neglected and this is a reason for much of the grocery stores’ empty shelves that we’ll witness with the changing weather.  Besides COVID-19, many do not get annual flu shots and worker shortages are traced to this and other neglected health care.

      Still, preppers must stockpile ample supplies.  Here, at my place, “doomsday” means no coffee and espresso supplies.  Need I say this place is loaded with coffee and espresso supplies ?

      • 5

        I was wondering that the other day. Are more people getting the flu shot this year? Do people think that it will help protect against corona and are getting it to help out their bodies as much as possible? or are more people staying home and don’t feel like they need to get one?

      • 3

        I believe more people are getting flu shots this year – based on what I’ve heard from several people its for a combination of reducing burden on the Healthcare system and just doing everything they can to stay safe, stay healthy.  There was very high demand for flu shots when they first came out this fall in my area (rural northern New England).  

      • 5

        I don’t really know about flu shot numbers nationally/globally but I am sure that the increased use of PPE and social distancing has decreased the amount of flu some.  My wife and I have had very limited travel and social contact since the beginning of this mess and know it decreased our odds of the flu at least.

      • 6

        Agreed – running out of coffee is simply not an option! I have a one year supply of coffee and a manual bean grinder.  One cannot be too careful!  Definitely one of those top items super critical for morale during a crisis.

      • 4

        Yeah, coffee is right up there with toilet paper!  I’m not risking running out of either, lol.  One thing to know about coffee though is it will go rancid from the oils in it so really long term storage isn’t an option.  I’ve kept a years supply with no issues at least.

      • 6

        I will say that I expect us to have some pretty major economic issues coming in the next year.  There are too many factors we are dealing with at once.  National debt, along with state, local and the majority of individuals are eyeball deep in debt currently. Along with rising unemployment and homelessness I’m just not very optimistic about 2021.  I’m afraid that it’s going to affect more than just our food supply but a big drop in the market and inflation as well.  The only thing I am certain of is I am thankful of all my prepping supplies and skills.  I hope I am wrong here but my gut feeling is this virus is going to cause a lot of hardship long term and not just with our food supply.

      • 9

        I know many people are looking forward to December 31, 2020 when they can finally say goodbye to this crummy year. But I don’t think things are magically going to be better come January 1st. The vaccine sure is good news to end this year off on, but it will continue to take months to really show that it is helping decrease cases and deaths. 

        I agree with you, there are so many things that are going to contribute to hard times ahead. I think all the businesses that were affected this year need to recover and that will mean increasing prices or decreasing quality. (toilet paper is already decreased in size)

        Even if covid starts to go on the decline, people go back to work, and more places open up, I think we need to still prep for hard times ahead. Don’t get complacent and say that things are going back to normal and we will be fine.

      • 6

        Agree. My recollection (bolstered the other day by re-listening to the first episode of It Could Happen Here) is that many economists believed that we were on the brink of a recession before Covid struck. Now what might have been a regular old slowdown or downturn has become an almost unprecedented collapse of entire sectors. When you throw in all the unknowns and unintended consequences of such a sudden transformation of how we do business (including all the entities and individuals who have taken on some form of debt to get through this, on top of the debt so many already have, as Dog lover noted), it seems naïve to imagine that if we can just send all the kids back to school and start eating out again, everything/everyone will bounce back.

        And my sense is that one of the lessons of the last catastrophic recession in the U.S. is that in a financialized economy, there are tradeoffs among rescuing the institutions that prop up the macro economy, making recovery real at the household scale, and keeping government spending at a politically acceptable level. Put aside the debates about which of those three things is most important (I’m sure a ton of ink will be spilled on that in the next year in other fora), and I’m struck by the fact that there would probably be deeply serious economic and/or political costs to not doing any one of the three, and even managing to do two of them well would take a degree of cooperation within the government of which I’m not sure it is really capable at the moment. 

        I don’t understand the macroeconomy or most supply chains to really game out what this means in terms of food and toilet paper shortages the way Downunder did below for Australia, but I do feel like ongoing instability and privation are probably a safe bet, even when the daily death- and new case rates aren’t as terrifying as they are now.

    • 8

      I take a more long term view towards food shortages. Empty supermarket shelves caused by storms or pandemic are short term events, but a growing global population and major change to our weather patterns might cause more long term food shortages, especially for those on lower incomes. China has anticipated this, and has been buying up food production in other countries for years. That food goes straight to the Chinese market, creating shortages or higher prices in the country of production. For example, China recently banned the import of Australian lobster for political reasons, causing a large increase in availability, and a 50% price drop, in Australia. This shows that Australians are already paying much higher prices because much of our production goes straight to China. Many of us already can’t afford to regularly buy what were once our staples, like beef and lamb. 

      My response to this was to put the infrastructure in place to produce some of my own food. That infrastructure includes rural land,  including a 10 acre cleared paddock with permanent river frontage, water transfer pump, water tanks, gardening tools, a hand crank grain mill, a seed collection, food dehydrator, guaranteed access to adjacent hunting lands etc. 

      • 6

        That is great that you are putting in the time, effort, and work into decreasing your need for supplies from the store. That is something that I hope to do here soon.

        Have you had a chance to use your hand crank grain mill yet? I have an electric one, but would like a hand crank version. I’ve heard that it takes forever to make even a small amount of flour with it though.

      • 8


        I’ve used it several times. It works well but needs several passes to get the flour fine enough. Each pass only takes a minute or two per hopper.