Product & Meat Shortages Persist

May 20-24

CLE are still experiencing product shortages, and expect them to continue

Looking to the future, only 15% of CLE think we are past product stock-outs.  Over 1/3 believe that certain products will continue to be in short supply. However, these fears seemed to be mostly driven by media and not first-hand experiences. Being out of stock has declined as a reason for purchasing less of various items from grocery stores, from 39% at the beginning of April to 17% in mid May.

5-21 products shortage expectations








CLE expect continuing shortages for 2-3 months

The outlook is not very promising as to when products will be back to their pre-COVID levels.  2 – 3 months is the time frame that most CLE think it will take for shortages to subside.

CLE are finding replacements for sought after items

Implications for reduced brand loyalty


Current product availability reveals a new reliance on replacement items.  Almost half of CLE that participated in the survey mentioned that they have been able to find satisfactory replacements for items that they sought but could not find.  Nearly ¼ have still experienced outages of products and they have not been able to locate a suitable replacement.

The increase in replacements has likely attributed to a lessening of brand loyalty.  Previously, 22% of CLE indicated that they would be willing to pay more for certain brands at this time, while others were giving up preferred brands to budget constraints.

Meat Shortages

It doesn't concern most CLEs

The majority of people feel prepared for a meat shortage because

  • they already have a freezer stocked with meat,
  • don’t eat much meat to begin with, or
  • feel confident and accepting of adjusting their diet to be more vegetarian and/or pescatarian.

We always buy our chicken, pork and ground beef in large packages to divide and freeze.  I have a freezer full of packages like that right now enough to share with my children if they are running short of meat.  I buy pork loins when they are 99 cents a pound and cut up chops and roasts.  We are prepared.”

“I feel prepared for a meat shortage because I am willing to eat plant-based proteins or any protein options I can find in stores. If I can’t find fresh chicken or beef, I will eat other meat options or something like veggies burgers or beans. I really see a meat shortage as a chance to make healthier, more environmentally friendly, more resourceful food choices. My family has also been eating less meat recently anyways, so limiting meat further wouldn’t be that difficult for us.”

Overlapping between CLE’s who feel prepared and don’t feel prepared is a tone of “bring it on.”

Consumers have already navigated a toilet paper shortage, face masks, and social distancing during this pandemic- they are desensitized to the stressor.


“I will take it as it comes- I am living at the moment and I am not thinking about the future”-

Not worried

“There is nothing I can do to change it so I will roll with it and eat like a part time vegetarian. I guess having the right attitude helps.”-

Feels prepared

“My family has been eating less meat lately anyway, due to animal welfare concerns….I’m perfectly happy eating plant-based proteins and whatever meats are available in stores. I’ve wanted to experiment with a more vegetarian/vegan diet for a while and now would be a good time to do so. I enjoy veggie burgers, tofu, beans, nut butters, etc. and it wouldn’t be a struggle for me to only eat meat occasionally……I’ve enjoyed the challenge of having to be more resourceful and use up foods at home. I’ve been saying for weeks now that it is a good time to explore a more plant-based diet and to get recipe ideas from the vegetarians/vegans in your life. 

Not worried - flexible in protein choices

Plant-based meat alternatives have an opportunity in a meat shortage.

CLE’s are not willing to pay more nor purchase lower quality meat but are comfortable with eating a plant-based diet and eating more fish.

Respondents are ready to give plant-based meat alternatives a try if chicken or beef becomes scarce.

The versatility of chicken and ground beef would be the hardest to forgo in a shortage, and people would be looking at ground plant-based meat alternatives as a comparable alternative for burgers, tacos, spaghetti, and other dishes that make the weekly menu.

“Chicken would by far be the hardest protein to go without in my household because we use it to compliment just about any dish we eat. There are minimal options for alternatives for meatless chicken products, so I would most likely be resorting to eating a plant-based beef burger.”

“I imagine that ground chuck would be the hardest meat product to go without.  I would not be upset if I could not afford to buy it for a period of time because I would easily substitute it with plant-based patties and other frozen forms of plant based substitutes. We have enjoyed patties, sausages, and other varieties that will work well since we routinely still eat these products even when meat is purchased for some meals.”