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Demand for These Grocery Items is Dropping Amidst Continued Shortages

An update on three major shortages which have wreaked havoc this year.

When it comes to grocery store shortages, we're not out of the woods quite yet. Economic, environmental, and even political factors have made many food products and household essentials difficult to come by this year, and even if consumers can find what they're looking for, major sticker shock is sure to follow.

Many of these items continue to be hot commodities—and a scary surprise is additionally on the horizon with an expected shortage of candy for Halloween. But for a few products, as supplies continue to be limited, they are simultaneously experiencing an overall decline in demand from month to month, according to new data from the global e-commerce accelerator Pattern. The Pattern team analyzed online consumer demand based on Amazon activity throughout 2021 and 2022 so far and found significant drops related to the following three hard-to-find grocery items.

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Baby Formula

The saga of the baby formula shortage began back in the spring when the out-of-stock rate for formula products began to rise significantly—eventually hitting an astounding 73% in late May. Supply chain issues and a major recall from Abbott Nutrition were at the heart of the problem, and families nationwide were forced to drive long hours or pay top dollar to get their hands on the products they needed.

While it's not over yet, the shortage has shown signs of letting up, and analysis from Pattern confirms that baby formula is additionally becoming less sought after online. The company's data shows that demand for baby formula in May was up by over 2,000% year over year. In contrast, that number has dropped to just 121% so far in August.

Abbott's facilities are back up and running. And as of earlier this week, 25% more baby formula products were available across the country compared to the lowest point back in May, according to reports from Datasembly.

Grocery shortage


Tampon supplies have additionally been a hot topic this year. Many women began to notice a decreased stock of popular tampon brands early in 2022, however, the shortage didn't begin to hit national headlines until June. This is additionally when demand for feminine hygiene products saw a 426% increase compared to June 2021, according to Pattern.

The factors which caused the shortage, including a lack of access to raw materials due to both the pandemic and war in Ukraine, have not fully subsided. However demand certainly has, dropping from a 426% year over year increase in June, to just 52% in July, and now 35% so far in August.

Manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble—the maker of the Tampax brand—have been reportedly working to boost tampon production for months. The company also assured customers that the shortage was a "temporary situation" in a statement to Good Housekeeping back in June. However, it is still unclear when supplies will bounce back to normal levels.

Sriracha Sauce

Summer 2022 has been on the mild side due to a low supply of Sriracha sauce. And for this one, another factor is largely to blame. The maker of the beloved condiment Huy Fong Foods announced in April that extreme weather was adversely affecting the yield and quality of the chili peppers used in its Chili Garlic, Sambal Oelek, and Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce.

As such, the company stated any orders placed on or after April 19 would not be received until sometime in September, after Labor Day. This contributed to inflated demand, hitting 649% year-over-year growth in June. August, however, has seen just a 216% year-over-year increase.

Megan Hageman
Megan is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Megan