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Consumer habits could be changing due to continued supply chain issues at grocery stores

If you've had difficulties finding a product at the grocery store you've bought for years, experts say you aren't alone.

BONDURANT, Iowa — At Brick Street Market and Cafe in Bondurant, pricing manager Joe Desaulniers says the pandemic's impact is still being felt on store shelves. 

"Most people wouldn't expect but where there are still items we have trouble getting," Desaulniers said. "There are times it's 10,15 up to sometimes 40 percent of the things we ordered don't come in."

He says the essentials like bread, milk and eggs always get the full shipment. However, novelty items like snacks and candy, as well as a number of brand-name items, aren't as reliable. 

"It's the packaging. A lot of times we don't think about the plastic bottles that these products go into or the plastic bags or the aluminum cans or whatever that happens to be," said Scott Grawe, a professor at Iowa State University with expertise in supply chain management. "That's all they've also got their own supply chains and a lot of companies are actually struggling to get the packaging."

Grawe also pointed to labor shortages and weather events like recent hurricane activity as outside issues working against suppliers.

Desaulniers and the rest of the Brick Street staff believe this supply chain hiccup is impacting consumer behaviors, potentially for the long haul.

"Over the last 18 months people have gotten a little bit less brand loyal," said Desaulniers. "And people have found out a lot of store brands are just as good as the national brands."

Desaulniers believes those substitutes are significantly cheaper than what shoppers were accustomed to, which could mean they are forming new loyalties.

"The one thing that we've learned over the past 18 months is that there's value in finding a good substitute," Grawe concluded.

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