This Beloved Lunch Staple Is Disappearing From Grocery Store Shelves
Sales of this food have grown by double digits, leading to a pervasive shortage.
There have been a number of shortages over the last year, from cars to coffee. The shortages mostly stem from multiple supply chain issues—including worker shortages and a lack of materials—and while many were brought on by the ongoing pandemic, new ones continue to pop up. Now, a shortage of one beloved lunch staple appears to be sweeping the nation, and fans of this cult classic are in an uproar. Read on to find out which lunchtime favorite might be missing from your local grocery store.
There is a nationwide Lunchables shortage.
There is currently a shortage of Lunchables, the lunchtime variety snack pack popular with children and adults alike. From the brand's kid-friendly charcuterie board meal of turkey, cheese, and crackers to its make-your-own pizza pack, grocery stores have been wiped clean, shoppers on Reddit report. A spokesperson from Kraft Heinz, which owns Lunchables, told Best Life that there is record demand for the product right now. The spokesperson said the company has seen Lunchables' sales grow by double digits for the first time in five years.
"Compared to 2019, nearly two million more households bought Kraft Heinz brands in the second quarter of 2021," the spokesperson said. They added that the company is "thrilled to see incredible demand." To address this growth, the company is working to invest in its supply chains. Additionally, the spokesperson said Kraft Heinz has "teams working fast and furiously so our retailers and consumers can get more of the Kraft Heinz products they love, wherever they like to shop."
Lunchables consumers are unhappy about the shortage, which spans multiple states.
Lunchables enthusiasts range from parents looking for an easy, reliable lunch to pack for their kids to nostalgic adults who grew up with these meals. Either way, Lunchables fans are a passionate bunch, and they're not pleased that the products have been disappearing from shelves. A handful of Reddit users discussed the lack of Lunchables in their grocery stores across multiple states, including Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington. Some consumers also posted about their inability to find Lunchables on the brand's Facebook page.
Executives in the industry say shortages are due to supply challenges.
Grocery store executives told The Wall Street Journal that some stores are experiencing supply challenges as significant as what occurred in spring 2020 when hoarding items in preparation for lockdowns left shelves empty and stores scrambling. Donny Rouse, chief executive of Rouses Markets, told the WSJ that the company is struggling to stock many popular items, from pet food to canned goods. According to Rouse, the chain is often receiving as little as 40 percent of what it orders. Before the pandemic, Rouses Markets generally received well over 90 percent of its orders. To fill the gap, some locations have begun making their own versions of popular products that can't be found on the shelves, including Lunchables.
Executives in the industry told the WSJ that manufacturers are unable to produce the volume of products needed to meet demand because many employees are staying home due to COVID, among other reasons. Food sellers told the newspaper that they expect these issues to persist for the time being. Stew Leonard, the CEO of Stew Leonard's, said the shortages are unprecedented. "In the 50 years I've been in the business right now, we've never seen the markets like they are today. They're wild!" Leonard told ABC News.
There is also a shortage of frozen waffles, Gatorade, Nike shoes, and computer chips.
Lunchables are the latest shortage in a series of disappearing products. The WSJ reports that other kid favorites, including frozen waffles and Gatorade, are experiencing a shortage. Additionally, resin, aluminum, and other raw materials used for most packaging are running low. Per CNN, Nike shoes, school supplies, cars, coffee, computer chips, and jet fuel are also hard to get your hands on right now.