Shopping tips ahead of Thanksgiving: Have supply chain issues affected Southwest Florida?

Andrew Atkins
Naples Daily News

As food shortages and supply chain issues persist, some Southwest Florida shoppers are stocking up early for their Thanksgiving grub. 

Others aren’t worried about finding the groceries they’ll need to gobble up by Turkey Day.

“I may be naive, but I’m not concerned about food shortages right now," Jeannie Koral Bachner wrote in response to a post in the USA TODAY — Florida Network’s Bite into SWFL Facebook page. "I don’t like the rising prices that I’ve seen in the past few months but it seems everything has gone up as well, not just food prices. I am not shopping early or changing our Thanksgiving menu but if I see a turkey breast on sale for $1.29/lb or less I’ll buy a big one.”

Kitson & Partners, developers of Babcock Ranch, celebrated the grand opening today alongside Publix Super Market’s store management team at a ribbon cutting celebration before welcoming its first customers.

From the Space Coast:Food shortages, supply chain issues won't disrupt holiday

Plan ahead:These restaurants are open for Thanksgiving in Naples, Bonita, Marco

On a similar post to the Jean Le Boeuf Facebook page, a handful of respondents said they shopped early. 

Carmelo LaMotta, who owns and operates the Cape Coral pizzeria and Italian restaurant, LaMotta’s, said customers were contacting him asking if she could find turkeys. In a response to that comment, Martin Holland noted he was at Publix Nov. 1 and the freezers were full of the birds.

And local Eating in SWFL food blogger/Instagrammer Ceciliy Jenkins said she was only worried about getting the turkey early. 

“As far as changing the menu, I highly doubt that will happen, assuming we are able to find all the ingredients for everything,” she wrote. 

Publix Director of Communications Maria Brous wrote in an email that the grocery chain places orders for holiday items well in advance of the season to be “well positioned to serve our customers with the variety and selection they have grown to expect from us.”

“The earlier you shop, the more selection you have in terms of brand and greater selection availability,” Brous wrote. “We do increase our order year-over-year to support the increase in business.” 

Trips to Whole Foods in September were down 25% from a year earlier, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Whole Foods spokesperson Reema Nimkar provided several holiday shopping tips, which include taking one's time, buying in advance, shop with courtesy and experimenting if shoppers can't find a favorite item. 

"It never hurts to ask your butcher or cashier how their day is going. It puts a smile on everyone's face, yours included," Nimkar wrote. 

While shortages may not spell disaster for Thanksgiving, food prices are higher now than they were last year. An October USA Today article reported that food prices overall rose 4.6% since September 2020, according to data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The Consumer Price Index, which measures the average change paid by consumers for goods and services, rose 5.4% from a year ago, according to the report, with meal, poultry, fish and eggs seeing the highest increase with a combined 10.5% raise. 

A September article from the Washington Post attributed supply chain disruption as a major factor in climbing grocery bills. 

“Food producers have struggled with shortages, bottlenecks, and transportation, weather and labor woes, all of which have caused food prices to rise,” the report reads.

While shortages may not spell disaster for Thanksgiving, food prices are higher now than they were last year.

A separate September article from Eater pointed to similar issues disrupting the shipments coming into restaurants. 

“Diners might not notice these shortages — many restaurants make it their mission to operate in a way that obscures any difficulties in the kitchen — but if you look closely, you’ll see them: Menus are slimmer, because ingredients erratically come and go from suppliers’ lists,” the report reads. 

The Tampa Bay Times reported Wednesday that the area’s Bloomin Brands expects to raise menu prices an average of 3% this fall at its family of restaurants, including Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill. 

While shortages might mean higher prices, it seems there will still be a reason for the season this Thanksgiving. 

Andrew Atkins writes about food and features for the Naples Daily News. Contact him via email at andrew.atkins@naplesnews.com. To support work like Andrew's, please consider subscribing: https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/