Australian shoppers are reporting another shortage on a basic household item, as supermarkets continue to grapple ongoing global supply chain issues.
The canned food aisle at Woolworths stores have been stripped bare of lentils and chickpeas, prompting the retail giants to blame the “supply chain delays”.
Supermarkets are reassuring customers they should see the tins back on shelves in as little as a week.
However a new report states harsh weather conditions coupled with the war in Ukraine has created a global chickpea shortage that could reduce supplies by as much as 20 per cent.
“We’re experiencing reduced availability across some of our lentil and chickpea products due to supply chain delays,” a Woolworths spokesperson told news.com.au.
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“We’re working with suppliers to maintain regular and consistent deliveries of stock to supermarkets.
“Customers should notice increased availability of stock over the coming week.
“We encourage everyone to continue shopping as they normally would and only buy what they need.”
One frustrated shopper took to social media to whinge about the item being “gone” from shelves, while another compared it to the 2020 toilet paper debacle.
The Global Pulse Confederation reported supplies of chickpeas could drop as much as 20 per cent this year as a result if difficult weather and the war in Ukraine.
The report stated EU sanctions after the invasion of Ukraine have interrupted shipments of chickpeas from Russia, a top chickpea exporter accounting for about a quarter of global trade, according to The Guardian.
While Ukraine was unable to produce its usual chickpea crop, meaning Europe missed out on around 50,000 tonnes of legume.
Demand turned to Australia, the biggest chickpea exporter in the world, however flooding has affected our crops and we’ve struggled to keep up.
Farmers in the US – the world’s fourth largest chickpea exporter – have also been hit by extreme weather conditions, prompting them to cut back on planting chickpeas and focused on more profitable crops like corn and wheat according to EatingWell.com.
As a result, Americans and Brits are already seeing the cost of canned chickpeas and hummus go up – while fears are mounting for India and the Middle East where chickpeas are a key source of protein.
The same global issues haven’t affected lentil supplies and crops, with the popular legume being affected by the ongoing supply chain issues which have been worsened by the pandemic.
As a result, severe backlogs have occurred at major supply chain hubs, directly affecting stock levels on Australian supermarket shelves.
But while many expected the crisis to have eased by now, one expert predicted port congestion won’t start to ease until 2023, stressing there won’t be a return to pre-Covid levels.
“It’s going to ease in 2023, but it’s not going to go back to 2019,” Mr Scharwath told the publication,” Tim Scharwath, global forwarding, freight CEO at logistics giant DHL, told to Bloomberg last month.
“I don’t think we’re going to go back to this overcapacity situation where rates were very low. “Infrastructure, especially in the US, isn’t going to get better overnight, because infrastructure developments take a long time.”
Other basic grocery items that have been hard to find in recent weeks in Australia include lettuce, tissues and cold and flu products.