Second stockpile surge? Grocery stores, manufacturers prepare as COVID-19 cases spike

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Friday, October 30, 2020
Second stockpile surge? Grocery stores, companies prepare as COVID cases spike
New items are in high demand as U.S. COVID-19 cases soar. Here's how stores are prepping.

NEW YORK -- Americans are stockpiling again, experts say, but the days of toilet paper troubles shouldn't come back to haunt us.

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise in the United States, many companies are making sure grocery store shelves stay stocked.

Food manufacturers, caught off guard by the crush of demand when the coronavirus first hit the U.S. last spring, are upping production in hopes of avoiding potential shortages.

Campbell Soup Company, for example, is spending $40 million to increase production of Goldfish crackers and its chips. General Mills is adding 45 external production lines to boost manufacturing.

Forty-five states are reporting an increase in new coronavirus cases.

This time around, bath tissue isn't what's flying off shelves. Mike Brackett, the founder and CEO of retail insights platform Centricity, said demand for baking goods has increased by 3,400% compared to this time last year.

By tracking online searches and e-commerce, Centricity also found that searches for spices are up too.

"Spices, feel-good items, slow cooker-type of items ... a lot of millennials perhaps hadn't done a lot of cooking before because they hadn't had to," Brackett said.

Centricity also found spikes in searches for items that can be prepared early and kept ahead of the upcoming holiday.

"Whatever can be frozen or whatever is non-perishable that you can safely keep into the holidays. We're seeing a lot of that," Brackett said.

Right now, Clorox wipes are back as the hot commodity, with limited supplies in stores and inflated prices online. The president of the company said in August that he didn't think the supply would be back up to normal until next year.

Stew Leonard, who runs a chain of grocery stores in the northeast, said he's noticed an uptick in panic-buying.

"You're seeing huge spikes in tuna fish. Pizzas are huge. The pizza dough is really big. All the comfort foods," he said.

Leonard said when the pandemic first hit, many suppliers weren't prepared, but now he's confident for the months ahead. He said he's not taking any chances and has already bulked up on stock -- just in case.