The Pandemic Will Make It Hard To Find These Foods This Fall

Remember last spring, and just how much fun it was racing frantically through the grocery aisles, hoping to find something edible left on the shelves? Well, brace yourselves. Not only winter, but perhaps the Hunger Games Part II (holiday edition) may be on the horizon.

The good thing is, grocers are aware of the possibility of food shortages this time around, and many are preparing by assembling "pandemic pallets" of those food items they think are likely to sell out quickly and/or be difficult to re-stock at short notice. We've all had many months by now to assess what happens when people are forced to stay at home for long periods of time, either due to the fact that they're self-quarantining, or because there's nowhere to go since businesses are shut down, or else due to the weather being cold and wet so who wants to go out anyway?

Still, before the weather (or pandemic) closes in, you should make one last grocery run to stock up on supplies. Here are a few items you might want to squirrel away before hibernating just in case the whole world goes nuts once again.

Baking supplies won't be easy to buy

One of the most popular quarantine hobbies was baking, or perhaps it was making (or watching) TikTok videos about baking. Whatever the reason, whether people were just hungry or else they were dreaming of video stardom, everybody was sweating over sourdough, beating up batches of banana bread batter, and putting together perfect peanut butter cookies. As a result, yeast supplies dried up and flour was tough to find, too.

Well, guess what? Fall and wintertime are prime baking times since kitchens are nice, warm places to be, and those cute seasonal sweaters hide a few extra pounds. KRFO lists flour and other baking supplies among the items they expect may be hard to come by in the months to come, so perhaps pick up a larger bag of the former as well as some extra baking soda and/or baking powder, sugar, salt, etc. Even if you don't do as much baking as you anticipate, the good thing about most of these products is, they'll probably last you a while. Salt, for one thing, won't ever expire, and even yeast is good for a few months if you keep it in the fridge.

Canned soups could be hard to come by

One favorite cold-weather meal is a nice hot bowl of soup, but this year making it may not be as easy as simply opening up a can. General Mills is still playing catch-up when it comes to meeting the demand for Progresso soup, while Campbell Soup CEO Mark Clouse says his company is racing to replenish its supplies of condensed and Chunky soups and Swanson broths (via Market Screener). They hope to have store shelves fully stocked with their products by January, but a steep increase in demand could easily scuttle those plans. If that happens, your best bet for a bowl of soup may be making it yourself, at least if soup-making supplies hold out. (And if they don't, you can always try your luck with stone soup.)

There may be a scarcity of certain sodas

The last few months have seen a dip in the supply of all types of bubbly beverages. At first, there was a shortage of the CO2 necessary to carbonate them, and then came a crisis with aluminum can production. While the shortages have even been felt in big-name brands like Dr. Pepper, you're more likely to be out of luck if you prefer a niche beverage such as Fresca or caffeine-free Diet Coke.

The reason you may not be able to find either of these products, both of which are made by the Coca-Cola company, is because the company is deliberately scaling back on the varieties of drinks it offers in order to keep up with the demand for its most popular offerings. Coke's CEO James Quincey recently told investors that this strategy is meant to help them survive current conditions, but admits that "getting through the winter in the Northern Hemisphere will be the big test" (via Market Screener).

Some snack foods, too, will be in short supply

Soda companies aren't the only ones pulling back on the number and variety of products they offer. Frito-Lay confirmed via tweet that they paused production of Salsa Verde Doritos back in May, and another tweet bid adios (or at least hasta la vista) to Fritos Scoops Spicy Jalapeno. Other tweets confirmed that Lay's Lightly Salted chips and Tostitos Baked Scoops are temporarily off the market, but Tostitos Black Bean & Garlic, the Lay's Classic Mix multipack, and Kickin' Chicken Taco, multigrain sour cream & onion, and ketchup-flavored Pringles are all gone for good.

Sweet snacks, too, have been affected by these corporate cutbacks. Sadly, Pepperidge Farm has paused the production of its Geneva cookies. Keebler, on the other hand, denies having issued any orders to their elves to slow down baking those Soft & Chewy Chips Deluxe, and yet their cookie bakers still seem to be slacking since Twitter users report being unable to find these popular cookies.

There could be a Spam shortage

Bad news for the entire state of Hawaii as well as all other Spam fans – there may not be spam musubi on the menu, since Hormel Foods Corp. CEO Jim Snee revealed that the company has 24 percent less inventory of all products than it did a year ago (via Market Line). He speculates that not only SPAM but Hormel pepperoni and bacon and Skippy peanut butter supplies could all run short this season, particularly if an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst its workers impacts production again. As he put it, "We can't afford any disruptions," but as we recall from last spring, the meat-packing industry was one of the hardest-hit by the virus. If worst comes to worst, however, Hormel could always fall back on making those bacon-scented face masks.

Canned corn has been flying off the shelves

According to the Wall Street Journal, canned corn has been flying off the shelves since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, with shoppers trying to stock up on this pantry staple and frequently finding their grocery store shelves bare. With its long shelf life compared to the fresh stuff and seemingly endless adaptability (Taste of Home lists 40 recipes featuring the canned veggie!), it's easy to understand why shoppers would again attempt to stockpile the food now that it appears a second wave of illnesses is on the horizon (via CBS News). The Wall Street Journal blames this shortage on a variety of reasons, including the fact that corn is only able to be harvested once per year — and that season has already happened for 2020; that canned corn consumption was up a whopping 47.6 percent from last year, making it virtually impossible for stores to keep the item stocked; and that the hoard mentality causes customers to take more than they need when they fear a shortage, or see empty shelves. While the outlet states that canned corn production, which is currently in the canning process for 2020, is expected to increase 25 percent in an attempt to catch up with demand, it is unlikely they will be able to keep stores stocked with the stuff through the holiday season.