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COVID-19 supply chain issues lead to empty shelves at supermarkets

The pandemic has led to many products being sold out or unavailable, leading shoppers to try alternative brands.

MANCHESTER, Conn. — You may have noticed it at your local grocery stores: store shelves are constantly empty and your preferred items or brands are not available. 

Highland Park Market in Manchester is one of the many supermarkets dealing with this issue. 

"It's very evident though when you walk through any store that there's things that are missing on the shelves," said Danita Sulick of Manchester. 

Sulick is one of the many loyal customers of Highland Park Market but lately, the way she grocery shops has changed because her preferred items are not yet available and prices have been rising. 

RELATED: Supply chain shortages impacting stores and shoppers in Connecticut

Instead of filling up her cart, she only buys what she needs. 

"I tend to be one of those people who buys stuff and it sits in my fridge and I throw it out and I'm not throwing food out anymore because I'm not buying as much," added Sulick. 

The supermarket's biggest struggle lately is filling the shelf with Tropicana orange juice. Shoppers, instead, are willing to try other brands like "Simply Orange." 

That has been the mentality for David Maloney. 

"There's always some sort of substitute that you can find usually in the store and if you're patient, it'll show up. It's not like we're going without food," said Maloney of Manchester. 

RELATED: Shopping a challenge for many as winter shortages hit

Maloney said he has visited other supermarkets and noticed this is happening elsewhere too. 

"We have noticed the last couple of weeks orange juice problems, I've been sent out sometimes by the family to get a certain type of orange juice, let's say with no pulp and it's just not there and we have to get something else. Awhile ago, it was bacon, I was sent out to get bacon and there wasn't bacon," added Maloney. 

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When asked what is causing this nationwide issue, Molly Devanney, vice president of public relations for Highland Park Market, pointed to COVID-19. 

"Employees calling out of work sick, it's not having enough truck drivers still, it's not having full capacity as far as the trains and the cargo moving from one part of the United States to another part," said Devanney. 

RELATED: Inflation impacts local food pantries, causing ripple effect on communities

Another reason for the delay: Devanney said by the time the product arrives to the supermarket, the food has gone bad so it gets brought back.

"We had an issue to get blueberries and the blueberries finally came in and they were sitting in port for a week so when they came in, we had to ship them back because they weren't up to the quality standards that we were looking for," added Devanney. 

Aside from the orange juice, the frozen food department has been noticeably empty and Devanney said this would last into March of end of May. 

Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at cchau@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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