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Over the past 18 months, U.S. consumers have been facing extensive shortages and acute price increases. Since last year, government officials have been telling us that this is a temporary crisis that will soon be over. At this stage, shortages should already be gone. But instead, conditions are only getting worse. In fact, each one of the crises we faced in 2020 have gotten significantly worse in 2021. And now that 2022 is just around the corner, the cheerful voices have disappeared. Even the optimists are finding it hard to say anything positive about the coming year. On top of facing shortages of food staples and everyday essentials, many Americans are struggling to find food for their pets. The U.S. is going through a severe pet food shortage for almost eight months, but now things have gotten so bad that this peculiar shortage has gotten media attention.
The Wall Street Journal recently released an article entitled “The Pet-Food Shortage Is Real, and Owners Are Scrambling,” in which it explained that import and production holdups have hit dog food and cat food just like human food. This particular shortage is another example of how vulnerable supply chains are right now. Even the simplest of items cannot be found anywhere anymore. Of course, this is just an exemplification of how the import crisis is affecting food inventories all over the country. In a recent interview, Patrick Penfield, professor of supply chain practice at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, said that international foods are among the products in short supply all across America. “As you walk through a lot of stores you won’t see the quantity and quality of items you are accustomed to seeing,” Penfield said. “Unfortunately, as we progress through the holiday season, we are seeing more bare shelves and stockouts of popular items.”
One very popular item that people will scramble to find this season is peppermint Candy Canes. In fact, the New York Post has called this shortage “the great Candy Cane Crisis of 2021.” According to the outlet, many retailers are having trouble keeping candy canes in stock, due to “a combination of ongoing supply chain issues and a downturn in this year’s peppermint crop”. “We only received half of our candy cane order for the holiday season and sold out almost immediately. We currently have zero in stock,” said Mitchell Cohen, the owner of New York City’s Economy Candy. “Raw material and ingredient shortages globally have had quite an impact.” Cohen exposed that this was the first time that his 84-year-old store has ever run out of these popular stocking stuffers. “Since candy canes were invented, we’ve had candy canes,” he said.
Data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s statistics show that peppermint production has dropped by nearly 25 percent in the United States. To make things worse, U.S. mint crops, including peppermint and spearmint, have been threatened by Verticillium wilt, a fungal disease that can’t be exterminated by any fungicide, but can destroy entire fields of mint. This shortage has become a nationwide phenomenon, and it illustrates how America’s crop failures can impact the production of items we usually take for granted. This Christmas, our tables may look very different than in previous years. And that’s because a series of the essentials for setting the table like disposable plates, cups and cutlery are in short supply. Food items, such as cream cheese, cranberry sauce, chicken tender, and Lunchables will be harder to find too. A recent study conducted by the business consultancy firm KPMG found that 71% of grocery consumers said they were very concerned about shortages or stockouts, and 35% are having to switch brands when their favorite items are out of stock.
This has been an exceedingly painful year for millions of Americans, especially for those who have never gotten a proper chance to recover from the recession that started in 2020. That’s why so many of us are desperately hoping for a major turnaround in 2022. But realistically speaking, that’s not going to happen. For many decades, our leaders have been making foolish decisions that have led us to this point. And it will take years to resolve the crises we’re currently facing. Politicians, policymakers, and all of our other “leaders” in Washington don’t seem to know what they’re actually doing. And many people are still hoping that they will find a way to navigate us out of this mess. The blind are leading the blind. And most Americans don’t realize the dangers that lie ahead as we walk into a horrifying economic abyss.