What's behind latest grocery store product shortages

Retailers are working hard to keep shelves stocked.

August 25, 2021, 8:22 AM

Consumer demand has soared for some grocery store products and retailers are scrambling to keep up.

According to The Wall Street Journal, some grocers are struggling to keep items in stock. From kid-favorite frozen waffles to certain beverages and Lunchables, the fight to keep store shelves filled with many popular brands is real.

PHOTO: Grocery bags pictured on a kitchen counter in this undated stock photo.
Grocery bags pictured on a kitchen counter in this undated stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

"In the 50 years I've been in the business, we've never seen the markets like they are today. They're wild," Stew Leonard, CEO of his eponymous Northeast-based grocery chain, told "Good Morning America."

Kraft Heinz said in a statement it is "seeing an all-time high demand for our brands."

Kraft said it's seen "double-digit growth for the first time in five years."

The company told ABC News that it has increased production to meet demand and is "working fast and furiously to get more product into the hands of consumers as soon as possible."

PHOTO: An aisle of grocery store in Iowa in this undated stock photo.
An aisle of grocery store in Iowa in this undated stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

In the meantime, as demand outpaces supply for some items, Leonard said his stores have tried to come up with new solutions.

"Lobster is probably at a record high right now as far as the price per pound and lobster rolls are a big hit," he said. "One of the things we've done is make a shrimp roll right now."

According to the Food Marketing Institute, a national trade association, demand pressures have yet to go back to pre-pandemic levels. The food and retail organization told ABC News that a combination of factors such as shortages of materials and ingredients, combined with labor and transportation, "will continue to be disruptive and will create an uneven supply chain recovery, but we ask that shoppers hold on as we continue to recalibrate.”

Market research firm IRI, which examines consumer, shopper and retail market intelligence, found in its data that monthly grocery store sales are up 3% from last year and nearly 14% from August 2019.

The change, according to IRI, comes down to the simple factor that consumers have been eating at home more and out less.

"So many behaviors changed during the pandemic. And that's kind of what we're experiencing. There's a lot more confidence in the kitchen," Joan Driggs, vice president of content and thought leadership for IRI, told "GMA." "We have a whole new generation of cooks out there who like it, they get more of exactly what they want, they take great pride in it."

Driggs is telling consumers there's no need to panic shop.

"People are able to go and fulfill their list -- I don't think we're going to go back to that big stop, stock up panic shopping that we experienced in the spring of 2020," he said.