Pet owners scavenge for cat food amid supply chain problems

Leyland, NC (WECT) – Many pet owners have noticed a new shortage lately, prompting families to dig deeper into their pockets or step out of their pets’ comfort zone.

“Well I have to burn off a lot of gas or call my cell phone and start calling — ‘Do you have this’ or ‘Do you have this?’” said Alex Fulcher, owner of Leland Cats. “You know, it’s kind of aggravating not being able to find it. I’ll probably go to three or four different stores.”

It seems to be difficult to find canned wet pet food lately, especially for cat owners. Some stores are better than others when it comes to empty shelves, but some pet owners will go to the store to stock up on their furry friends’ favorite treat.

“I’m going to have a hard time finding boxes of bread,” Fulcher said. “I think they are five-and-a-half ounce cans. Normally, I get the number 32 or 48. We buy in bulk because it’s a little cheaper, but I can’t even buy that in the last couple of months.”

It is a problem that affects people across the country as supply chain issues affect the foods being delivered. Meanwhile, some brands are waiting for products that are still on cargo ships.

Petsmart is just one store that struggles to keep shelves stocked in some locations.

“Throughout the pandemic, more people have added pets to their families, which has increased the demand for pet food,” Petsmart said in a statement on the issue. “With this increase in demand, we have seen a shortage of wet food manufacturers impacting our supply of packaged foods in our stores and online. We are committed to doing everything we can to help pet parents feed and care for their pets and are actively working with our manufacturing and shipping partners to ensure Increase supply to better meet current demand.”

This has prompted some pet owners to buy more expensive brands or shop online from places like Chewy or Amazon. If they are fortunate enough to find a story with shelves stored, they will be stocked.

“They don’t know if they’ll have it one day next week or not,” Fulcher said. “When it shows up at their back door, that’s when they know they’re going to get it.”

Industry leaders say the problem occurs for a number of reasons, including manufacturing, distribution and retail hurdles. This started at the beginning of the pandemic when manufacturing was disrupted during the lockdown. Recently, the Pet Food Institute (PFI) says increased competition for oils and fats caused by state and federal mandates has made manufacturing difficult.

“U.S. pet food makers also face unprecedented transportation and infrastructure challenges,” said Dana Brooks, president and CEO of PFI. “Bottlenecks at major US ports continue to threaten their ability to serve export markets and source key components. Companies also face delays in offloading product from ships. Transportation challenges persist domestically, with a lack of trucking making it difficult for companies to secure vehicles, drivers, and even pallets.”

Brooks points out that incentives to boost production of renewable fuels have made diesel fuel more difficult to manufacture, adding to the shipping problem.

“PFI and its members support efforts to combat climate change, but current policies create a government-driven market advantage for the energy sector and affect companies that buy ingredients for pet food,” Brooks said.

To make sure all pets get what they need, PFI asks pet owners to shop as they normally would and not to stockpile when the shelves are full. If you need a specific product, try contacting the company directly for assistance.

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