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Product Shortages That Have Wreaked Havoc on 2020 & 2021

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with American lives over the last year and a half. Beyond the devastating loss of life, the pandemic also had devastating effects on the economy, leading to mass product shortages on previously plentiful goods and services.

From video games and gold and silver to Uber drivers, chicken wings, bacon, and – of course – toilet paper, the last two years have led to panic-buying and supply chain issues that have made once common commodities much harder to come by and in turn much more expensive.

Have you dealt with any of these product shortages firsthand? Were you able to find what you needed eventually? Let us know.

Chocolate

Thanks to environmental damage that has led to a coco plat shortage chocolate is in danger. According to Investing.com:

“According to the NOAA, because of environmental damage, cocoa plants will likely go extinct by 2050…. The current deficit in the cocoa market is 8,000 tons, which follows closely on the heels of a 123,000-ton surplus that occurred just last year.”

Hot Dogs

The prevalence of takeout ordering, fast food, and outdoor gatherings during the pandemic has led to a shortage of hot dogs. Yes, really. So, be sure to stock up for your summer BBQ early.

Chicken Wings

After a major ice storm devastated Texas, one of the United States’ major chicken producers, the supply of chicken wings has dwindled considerably. This has led some restaurants to increases prices, while others have pulled wings altogether.

Silver

A massive increase in demand for American Silver Eagle bullion coins has led to increase in demand to for silver. Demand for silver jumped 20% in 2020, and has continued to increase through 2021.

Oxygen

One of the most dangerous shortages caused by the pandemic revolves around Oxygen canisters. With millions of cases requiring oxygen intubation, supplies have dwindled considerably.

Bicycles

With social distancing rules and general uncomfortableness with public transportation, bicycle demand jumped exponentially during the pandemic, resulting in a 121% increase in bike sales. This has led to heavy delays in the delivery of new bikes, as well as a scarcity of spare parts.

Ketchup Packets

This one is pretty simple: The huge increase in takeout orders during the pandemic led to an unexpected shortage in ketchup packets. In fact, Heinz had to increase packet production by 25% just to try and meet demand.

Toilet Paper

Ah, toilet paper. Just the words bring up memories of the early pandemic period. Of course, the ultimate irony is that there was no real reason for a toilet paper shortage. However, those who panic bought because they feared one ended up causing one.

Bacon

Could COVID really lead to a shortage of bacon?!?

According to experts, the number of outdoor gatherings (in particular BBQs) that were necessitated by the pandemic led to heaver than usual consumption of bacon, which in turn has led to suppliers struggling to keep up with demand.

Aluminum Cans

The panic buying of items housed in aluminum cans (including soda and beer) has led to a can shortage. By the end of 2020, this stood at a deficit of 100,000 to 200,000 tons.

Crocs

While many companies have struggled during the pandemic, the loungewear shoe company Crocs has been massively successful… almost too successful for their own good. Their profits increased from $18.7million to $122.5 million in 2021, however that’s put a massive squeeze on their supply chain, leading to shortages.

Pickle Jars

This one might sound like a joke, but it’s 100% a… serious pickle. The large uptick in people pickling food to store at home, combined with years-long pushes to recycle glass jars, has led to a shortage of pickle jars, which has in turn led to a shortage of pickles at restaurants. Seriously.

Video Game Systems

People being “cooped up” in their homes for a year led to a massive surge in demand for video game systems. All the major players (Sony’s Playstation, Microsoft’s X-Box, and Nintendo’s Switch) experienced shortages as demand outstripped supply, This, combined with issues in chip production have led to massive delays.

Coffee

The pandemic has indirectly led to a coffee shortage. See, the missive increase in global commerce that seemed from quartile led to a shortage in shipping containers. In turn, this has caused massive delays in importing certain goods, coffee chief among them. This led to a 6-year-low in U.S. coffee stockpiles, despite record-breaking crop yields in Brazil.

Lumber

Lumber production was purposely slowed due to a perceived slump in the housing market that never materialized. In fact, the pandemic led to the opposite, which in turn has led to high supply and low demand for lumber.

Gold

The U.S. mint can’t keep up with the current demand for gold, and prices are expected to jump 11.5% in 2021, averaging $1,974 per ounce. According to Investopedia, “when inflation rises, the price of gold rises too. In 2020, gold bullion coin sales rose 258%, causing plant capacity issues that have left many gold buyers on a waiting list.”

Blood

An understandable reluctance among many to go to medical facilities and donate blood over the past year, combined with the stressors put on the medical community by the pandemic, has led to a dangerous shortage of donated blood.

La-Z-Boys

Pandemic-induced supply chain issues, combined with an increase in demand and a winter-storm, have led to a massive slowdown in La-Z-Boy production. Currently, orders are running 5-7 months behind.

Rideshare Drivers

As demand on rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft understandably dwindled due to social distancing, many drivers began abandoning the services. This has led to increased pricing and decreased availability for those who are still using the apps.

Shipping Containers

High levels of online shopping have led to a scarcity of shipping containers. As explained by Investing.com:

“We were at home, shopping for household goods to redecorate, office supplies for the home office, and of course a lot of plants and baking accessories. All of these goods were shipped across the globe while we made sourdough and grew vegetables on our balconies.”

Pet Food

Rates of pet ownership skyrocketed during the pandemic, and have yet to slow even as the word has “returned to normal.” This has led to pet food supply chain issues for many stores, as they were unprepared for the surprise uptick in demand for the product

Tesla

A shortage in semiconductor chips has led to a massive decline in Tesla production in 2021. However, the ever-irascible Elon Musk has vowed that the company is “developing firmware for new chips made by different suppliers.”

Platinum

According to Investing.Com, “The World Platinum Investment Council has been closely monitoring the price of platinum, and it’s announced that there is a shortage of platinum. The deficit is -932 koz, which is the largest deficit on record. The revised forecast from the WPIC points to economic uncertainty as the cause of the shortage.”

Truckers

Thanks to pandemic-induced slowdowns leading to less and less work, many truck drivers have looked for ways to diversify their income, and the successful ones aren’t coming back to driving even as things have turned back to normal. To put it bluntly: many truckers have moved on.

Homes

A combination of people looking to move outside of crowded cities (spurred on by the pandemic-induced increase in working from home) has led to a shrinking housing market, an expanding buyer’s market, and skyrocketing prices. In other words, if you’re looking for a house, start saving now.

Rental Cars

At the height of the pandemic, many rental car companies sold off some of their cars to lessen their overhead costs and benefit their bottom line. This has led to a decrease in the available supply of rental cars just as demand has skyrocketed with the country’s “reopening.”

Boats

Surging demand for “safe” recreational activities combined with pandemic-affected supply chain issues have led to massive issues in boat production, slowing down deliveries considerably.

Chlorine

Thanks to a massive fire at a BioLab chemical plant in August 2020 (caused by Hurricane Laura), chlorine has become an expensive commodity in the last year. Prices have doubled, with no sign of going back to normal anytime soon.

Computer Chips

Thanks to a large uptick in demand for technology (phones, computers, and other tech) needed to work from home or simply pass the time during quarantine, companies are having a harder time finding the materials needed for computer chips and semiconductors. This has in turn led to long delays in the stocking of tech products, which could potentially lead to price increases.

Gasoline

Follow along with us, because this one is a bit of a ride. When the pandemic slowed the world down in 2020-2021, many fuel-truck drivers found themselves with little to no work. Many of said drivers in turn found other lines of work. So now that the world is opening up, and gasoline is back in high demand, there’s a lack of fuel-truck drivers which could lead to a shortage.

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