Grocery chains start stockpiling food because of demand and rising prices
Bland central bankers and the Wall Street economists who kowtow to them have repeatedly assured us there is no inflation. But if there is some inflation…it is just temporary, and soon we’ll all be back to worrying about deflation and the need for even greater central bank intervention in the markets.
It’s a comforting argument for those whose greatest worry is getting to the Hamptons for the weekend. But for the rest of us, inflation appears more like a real thing, particularly for the items we must purchase, like food and energy.
Speaking of food…the Wall Street Journal reports that supermarkets are now stockpiling food because of…rising demand and prices:
Some supermarkets said they are buying and storing supplies to keep their shelves full amid stronger demand. Grocery sales in the U.S. for the week ended June 19 rose about 15% from two years earlier and increased 0.5% from a year earlier, according to Jefferies and NielsenIQ data.
Stockpiling by food retailers is driving shortages of some staples, grocery industry executives said, and is challenging a U.S. food supply chain already squeezed by transportation costs, labor pressure and ingredient constraints.
The move is a reversal from last year when consumers hoarded groceries because of concerns about food availability, disrupting the food industry. Now, retailers themselves are stockpiling to keep costs down and protect margins.
“We’re buying a lot of everything. Our inventories are up significantly over the same period last year,” said David Smith, chief executive officer of Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc. The nation’s largest wholesaler for more than 3,000 grocery stores recently purchased 15% to 20% more inventory, mainly of packaged foods with longer shelf life, he said.
Other costs are rising too:
Few retailers expect pricing pressure to ease soon. Worker shortages are keeping labor and transportation expensive, industry executives said, as companies boost wages and offer bonuses to recruit and keep employees.
“When you have a uniquely inflationary period like now, it’s a feeding frenzy,” said Tony Sarsam, chief executive officer of SpartanNash Co. The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer and distributor is stockpiling about 20% to 25% more groceries such as frozen meat and boxed foods after more than 100 suppliers notified SpartanNash that they would raise prices, he said.
But there’s no inflation, Really. Except where there is, and that’s just temporary. And while we’re on the topic…the St. Louis Fed’s James Bullard gave a talk several years ago about official inflation measures, calling them “rotten.” That’s still true today.