Eggs, Champagne and more supply chain issues. Here's why they're hard to get

Remember the toilet paper shortage of 2020? Then the baby formula shortage, the car computer chip shortage and on and on.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the extended COVID lockdown in China, even though it has been recently relaxed, continue to exacerbate the global supply chain issues that have persisted since the early days of the pandemic.

Is dealing with shortages the new normal?

Not necessarily, say experts, as some of the most recent shortages on grocery shelves are caused by issues other than the supply chain.

While the labor shortage and supply issues are blamed for some shortages, others are due to unusual circumstances, such as the avian flu that is making it difficult and expensive to buy poultry and eggs.

"Supply chain problems in general have been improving," said Rutgers University Professor James W. Hughes.

We can't always predict which goods will be affected, but we can do our best to prepare and adapt, experts say.

"Many people are substituting applesauce for eggs when making pancakes, waffles and baked goods. It is cheaper and has the same binding effect on dry ingredients," said Rutgers University Professor Barbara O'Neill, a specialist in financial resource management.

Here are some products that are difficult to find:

Avian flu is behind the shortage of eggs in the United States.
Avian flu is behind the shortage of eggs in the United States.

Eggs (and poultry)

A virus infecting chickens known as avian influenza, or HPAI, is to blame for the egg shortage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 57 million chickens have had to be destroyed due to the virus, which hit about a year ago in the United States. On a smaller scale, the expensive eggs are also being blamed on the higher cost of fuel, which caused the cost of bird feed to increase. In December 2021, a dozen eggs cost an average of $1.79, and last month the cost was averaging about $4.25, a 137% increase, said the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A dozen eggs average about $7.37 in California and $5.29 in Montana.

Tomato products

Drought conditions in California, the leading tomato-producing state in the U.S., are behind the shortage of all tomato products. The drought has been in occurring since 2000, with the longest drought period in California lasting 376 weeks, beginning on Dec. 27, 2011, and ending on March 5, 2019. Fewer tomato plants are grown, and some are yielding no crops. The drought and the tomato shortage are hurting the production of ketchup, pizza sauce, marinara sauce and anything else made with tomatoes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the current national average price for tomatoes at $0.69 per pound.

Lettuce growing on the Closter Farm, photographed on Tuesday, April 12, 2022.
Lettuce growing on the Closter Farm, photographed on Tuesday, April 12, 2022.


A lettuce shortage and the increase in cost can be traced to central California, which experienced unseasonably high temperatures and crop disease that caused severe losses in iceberg and romaine varieties, lettuce growers say.

INSV, or impatiens necrotic spot virus, carried by insects called thrips (don't look at their photos), has infected fields of lettuce, which are inedible due to the dark spots and yellowing leaves.

The California Farm Bureau reported that lettuce growers in the Salinas Valley estimated a yield loss of more than 80% of their crop in 2022. The restaurant industry also suffers from the difficulty of getting lettuce. A wholesale box of romaine that should cost $30 is now going for $100.

Prescription drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said there is a shortage of some common medications, both over the counter and prescription, including albuterol sulfate inhalational solution, amoxicillin and Adderall. Some individuals affected by this shortage are those with asthma, emphysema, other breathing conditions, bacterial infections or RSV, and those who suffer from ADHD symptoms.

The FDA says manufacturing quality issues are the major reason for drug shortages, but production delays in manufacturing are also to blame. Delays in receiving materials and components from suppliers are causing manufacturing issues. Discontinuations are another factor contributing to shortages, the FDA said.

Children's cold and pain medications

Just as they did during the infant formula shortage, parents have taken their search for child cold and pain medication to social media. They are asking for help in finding Children's Tylenol and Children's Motrin, both manufactured by Johnson & Johnson.

This week, a representative of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health said the company continues "to experience high consumer demand driven by an extremely challenging cold and flu season."

Although products may be less readily available at some stores, the representative said the company is "not experiencing widespread shortages" of the two medications.

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"We recognize this may be challenging for parents and caregivers, and are doing everything we can to make sure people have access to the products they need, including maximizing our production capacity, running our sites 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and continuously shipping out product. We will continue to partner with retailers to provide these products to consumers,” Johnson & Johnson said.

The same holds true for the adult Tylenol formula.

The shelves for infant formula were empty at the Target store in Hackensack, NJ on May 16, 2022.
The shelves for infant formula were empty at the Target store in Hackensack, NJ on May 16, 2022.

Baby formula

Even though the supply has improved, there is still a shortage of infant or baby formula.

It has been almost a year since Abbott Nutrition, the largest manufacturer of infant formula in the country, recalled the popular Similac formula and others. One of the plants was shut down due to bacterial contamination that was blamed for the death of two infants and the hospitalization of four.

The plant was closed after an FDA inspection found Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria, which can be deadly to infants.

The shortage was eased when President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act in May and the FDA relaxed federal import regulations.

Steady hands for the Champagne tower pour.
Steady hands for the Champagne tower pour.


A major increase in demand and some supply chain issues are making it tougher to get the bubbly.

"With 326 million bottles, Champagne shipments rose in 2022 by 1.6% per compared with the previous year — proof of the dynamism of the global Champagne market, both in terms of volume and value," according to the Comité Champagne, the trade association representing the interests of the Champagne industry.

COVID supply chain issues with glass bottles, corks and labels are also at fault for the shortage of Champagne, as are freight and logistics backlogs holding up shipments. The shortage also can be traced back to 2021, when mildew, frost and hail reduced the Champagne harvest to less than half its usual size.

In addition, the drought in California is hurting the production of sparkling wines.

Bread, flour, cereal

Anything made of grain, especially wheat, is seeing a price increase, mostly due to the Russia-Ukraine war. The two countries are major producers.

About 20% of the world's cereal grain production comes from Russia and Ukraine. The conflict is causing some shortages and price increases globally.


Cement, an ingredient used to make concrete, is hard to find due to an increase in use, and that is holding up projects throughout the country.

Good weather and generally high demand are being blamed for the shortage, which has led producers to limit the supply each customer receives, according to the Structural Building Components Association.

Some experts say the shortage has a number of causes, including industry challenges in a post-COVID-19 world and unexpected construction trends.

This article originally appeared on Grocery shortages 2023: List of products and why they are hard to get