Grocery chains weigh in on supply chain questions in light of Isaias

Supply chain strained due to COVID-19

Jacksonville, Fla. — With Tropical Storm Isaias forming in the Atlantic amid the pandemic, people around Northeast Florida are wondering what prepping for a hurricane may mean for local grocery chains.

Many stores saw goods on local shelves dwindle in the Spring.

“This is actually forcing people to think about a little bit of the future,” said Winn-Dixie shopper, Phillip McCarty.

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Winn-Dixie’s parent company, Southeastern Grocers, tells Action News Jax it’s working closely with distribution centers to make sure customers can find what they need in the event of a hurricane.

Publix tells Action News Jax in a statement reading in part, “… water production is in full-swing, and inventory levels are returning to pre-pandemic state, with few exceptions…” and “… we are seeing better conditions in most categories; however, paper and cleaning products have been slower to rebound. For this very reason, customers may see limits in place…”

Complete statements from Southeastern Grocers and Publix may be found below.

First Coast Manufacturers Association president, Lake Ray, tells us many consumers may have more goods stockpiled at home than they would have in past summers, as a result of shopping habits amid the pandemic.

He went on to say food that may have gone to restaurants prior to the pandemic, in some cases, is being redirected to grocery stores.

“Some of that now it being reshifted,” said Ray. “... And so you’re seeing it go back over to the grocery chain.”

Southeastern Grocers' statement:

“With the path of the storm in the Eastern Caribbean being uncertain for the time being, we’re working closely with our distribution centers to ensure our stores have the hurricane essentials our customers need to weather the storm. We are going to great lengths to take care of our customers, our associates, and our stores. As the path becomes clearer, we’ll adjust our planning accordingly.”
- Joe Caldwell, Director of Corporate Communications and Government Affairs for Southeastern Grocers

Publix statement:

“The nature of our business is to plan early, consistently communicate with our suppliers, and make adjustments to meet or exceed our customers’ expectations. With hurricane season upon us, we continue to diligently work with our suppliers to ensure we’ll have the vital suppliers needed to prepare early. Water production is in full-swing, and inventory levels are returning to pre-pandemic state, with few exceptions. Our stores continue to be busy. We ask our customers to shop as they normally would, but not to stockpile, so that their friends, family and neighbors have the same opportunity. The grocery industry is resilient, and we just needed to be patient and allow the industry an opportunity to recover. We are seeing better conditions in most categories; however, paper and cleaning products have been slower to rebound. For this very reason, customers may see limits in place. In addition, limits will vary be store depending on high demand for certain items. We have a cross-functional team at Publix that is responsible for hurricane preparedness, pre, during and post storm. Our team monitors weather conditions and makes determinations for store closures and reopening times based safety conditions and potentially direction from local, city and state authorities. For customers who prefer not to or are unable to shop in our stores, Publix Delivery powered by Instacart or curbside pickup where available, are both options.”
- Maria Brous, Publix Director of Communications