Not the Noodles. Shortage of Pasta on Montana Grocery Shelves?
Most of the COVID-caused supply chain shortages in the past two years have - thankfully - had minimal impact on me or my family's life. Sure, we were a little nervous during the bizarre toilet-paper-hoarding phase and I was a tiny bit worried when they started talking about a beer can shortage, but for the most part, we've been able to find just about everything we need on store shelves.
However, there is one food item that continues to be in short supply on neighborhood grocery store shelves; pasta. Our household eats a ton of pasta, usually spaghetti (at least once a week) and we're always making lasagna, fettuccini, manicotti, or other stuffed pasta shell dishes.
Poor pasta selection at Walmart.
I'm at the grocery store a couple of times per week and every time I've been there (for months now) the pasta section is always noticeably bare. This week, an entire row of pasta shelving was empty at the Laurel Walmart, although there was a decent selection of Barilla brand products. On other visits, the lack of inventory was reversed, with no Barilla, but plenty of store-brand varieties.
Down the road at IGA, they also had a fair amount of gaps in their pasta selection. I was unable to check Albertson's in time for this article and we've had no problems finding those giant packs of spaghetti at Costco.
Why the pasta shortage?
Some of the noodle shortages may still be fallout from COVID supply chain problems, but it appears that a bigger reason for nearly-empty pasta shelves, is a shortage of durum wheat, according to an article by Market Realist. Canada is the biggest exporter of durum wheat used for pasta making, and an abnormally hot, dry, smoke-filled growing season last summer made for a poor harvest. Less wheat harvested = less spaghetti on the shelf.
You could make your own pasta.
Dry boxes of pasta are usually so cheap and plentiful, that it seems like a lot of work to make your own. Nowadays, it might be your only option if the shelves are empty. I've made homemade egg noodles for chicken noodle soup, and they really are a lot tastier than store-bought. I've never tried making spaghetti or fettuccini noodles, but if you've got the time, the ingredient list is pretty short and it seems simple enough.
Potential shortages coming on other foods too.
Turkey/Chicken. A story making headlines this week is the report of another bird flu hitting turkey and chicken producers in the US. Over 29,000 birds were euthanized in Indiana last week after testing positive and producers are hopeful the infection doesn't recreate the 2015 outbreak in the US that killed 50 million birds.
French Fries. My insider in the potato industry says he shouldn't be surprised if we experience a fry shortage later this spring. Hot, dry conditions last summer across many of the US potato growing regions led to lower yields for many farmers. As VICE reported, some global McDonald's locations are already limiting fry orders to Small sizes only.
LOOK: 15 Discontinued McDonald's Menu Items