Center-Store Items Still in High Demand

July 13, 2020
Processors who specialize in center-store pantry staples, like soup, pasta, rice and flour, can’t keep up with increased demand.

Processors who supply pantry staples are still struggling to meet the surge in demand caused by the pandemic, even with longer production runs, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Out-of-stocks for packaged goods in general hit 10% by the first week of July, compared with a usual level of 5% to 7%, according to IRI research quoted in the Journal. Processors who specialize in center-store pantry staples, like soup, pasta, rice and flour, can’t keep up with increased demand.

Conagra Brands CEO Sean Connolly told the Journal that “we are running flat out” and even so, Conagra might not be able to fulfill demand for products like Chef Boyardee canned pasta and Healthy Choice frozen meals.

Campbell Soup is “racing to rebuild some inventory,” said CEO Mark Clouse, adding that the pandemic demand strained Campbell’s supply chain, which had been winding down due to falling demand for items like soup and crackers.

King Arthur Flour Co. is producing “double to triple the normal volume” and is still barely keeping up with demand, which more than tripled year-over-year in March and is still 25% higher in June.

“There is enough wheat. There are a lot of mills. The packaging lines at the mills are the limiting factor,” a King Arthur spokesperson told the Journal.

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