The One Canned Food That's Suddenly in Short Supply

Keenan Mayo
·2-min read

As COVID-19 cases rise and temperatures fall, stockpiling season is officially in full swing. A new customer survey released by Deloitte this month found that tons of grocery shoppers are buying up far more food items than they actually need. According to store owners, there's been a sharp uptick in sales for meats, frozen pizzas, baking foods, and all sorts of dry goods. Canned foods, meanwhile, remain in high demand. A poll conducted by LendingTree found that canned goods rank high among the items consumers are snatching up at the grocery store right now.

But there's at least one particular canned good that's even harder to find than others: Canned corn. According to a new report in The Wall Street Journal, there are several reasons that this pantry staple is suddenly in short supply. (Related: 8 Grocery Items That May Soon Be in Short Supply.)

For starters, the corn that's grown specifically for the purposes of being canned is a very "small portion of the U.S. crop." It's only harvested once a year, and it's usually canned "right after the harvest in late summer, and that yield is the entire supply for the year." The number of farmers who specialize in canned corn for canned-good giants such as Del Monte and Green Giant is also quite small. According to the Journal, the previous surge in demand for canned goods after the coronavirus led "retailers [to] quickly [blow] through inventories."

That's not all. The report cites supply chain issues as another driving force in the current scarcity of canned corn, noting that the trucking companies who distribute such goods downsized their fleets last year in an effort to boost their profits, which left the haulers in a bad position to meet the new surge in demand earlier this year.

In other words: For canned corn, the coronavirus was something of a perfect storm, as suppliers didn't have enough supply, distributors didn't have a full force, and canning season—when stocks could be replenished—fell at the end of summer. Though canned-corn brands say they're going to boost production by 25 percent this year, it doesn't change the fact that you're unlikely to find it in abundance on stores shelves right now. And for more amazing shopping advice, make sure you read up on The Dirtiest Thing in the Grocery Store You Should Definitely Avoid!