Is Walmart Running Out of Chicken?
Reddit users noted what appears to be an ongoing shortage at the grocery store chain.
Supply chain issues have been plaguing just about every industry, including grocery suppliers. Stores are struggling to keep food on shelves, whether it's candy canes or beer, but meat especially seems to be in short supply. Reddit users recently noticed that Walmart, in particular, appears to be struggling to supply shoppers with the poultry they're used to buying.
Meat shortages come as no surprise. In fact, there's been a nationwide chicken shortage since roughly May 2021, and a chicken tender specific one has been looming since December 2021. The impacts of the shortage just appear to be becoming more widespread, now affecting massive grocery store chains like Walmart.
A Reddit user recently shared a photo of a customer buying roughly 45 containers of chicken breast—all the chicken that was available at that time, according to their post.
"My man bought all the chicken breast in the store...," they captioned the post.
Other Reddit users chimed in, questioning why chicken has been in such low supply, leading some folks to shop like doomsday preppers. Several users noted that their local Walmarts were out of chicken or close to it, questioning, "Are people hoarding it like TP from early last year or is there a production shortage?"
Users floated several plausible theories. One suggested, "Right now it's cheaper to buy the parts than whole chickens I believe, so restaurant owners are buying all chicken parts." Another noted, "The store I work at is like this too, we're barely getting any chicken at all, maybe a day's worth we get per truck."
While Walmart didn't confirm the chicken shortage outright, it did admit to having issues, telling Thrillist in an email that "This is not just an issue isolated to Walmart, it is affecting every chain—it's an industry issue—from impacts due to COVID absenteeism within the supply chain due to quarantine requirements by employers in supply chain, as well as school and day care closures tied to COVID, and several winter storms across the country over the past six weeks. We are working hard with our suppliers to increase inventory."
The email touches on several reasons causing these meat shortages.
As explained by the National Chicken Council and Civil Eats, these shortages are driven by supply chain issues. Those, in turn, have a lot to do with the coronavirus pandemic, which has both led to workers calling in sick en masse, or resigning entirely. Many chains and companies have said they're having a hard time staffing up, and many meat plants were forced to shut down or slow production as a result. USA Today notes that this has also caused "congestion at ports and shortages of truck drivers and service workers." The publication also points out that people are eating at home more than before, putting a strain on grocery stores in this way as well, and that "weather-related events, from snowstorms in the Northeast to wildfires in Colorado, also have impacted product availability and caused some shoppers to stock up more than usual, exacerbating supply problems caused by the pandemic."
Whatever the reason, people buying up all the available chicken isn't helping.