December 10, 2013

Shoppers emptying grocery shelves as cold spell drags on

Restocking is a struggle as poor highway conditions delay supply trucks.

Shoppers found eggs scarce in some stores and produce picked over or simply missing, as supermarkets and truckers struggled against the elements to supply North Texas.

“It’s a mess right now,” said Kyle Sayers of Sayers Family Farmers Market in Halton City, which sells wholesale produce to a number of area restaurants. “When we sent trucks out, most of our accounts were closed.”

To make matters worse, trucks that normally leave toward the end of the week to pick up fruit and vegetables in California were just departing on Monday, prompting Sayer to predict shortages of some produce toward the end of this week.

Sayer said the 7-Eleven stores he visited had been cleaned out in some categories, apparently by people trying to stock up or restock, during the drawn-out ice storm.

7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris confirmed that some stores in the region ran short because 18-wheelers couldn’t navigate the highways. Moreover, some outlets suffered storm damage, including a collapsed awning at the downtown Fort Worth store.

The Japanese-owned chain expected to have regular deliveries restored today, she added.

Some Kroger stores in Dallas experienced shortages of Mrs Baird’s and Flowers brands of bread, said Gary Huddleston, director of consumer affairs for Texas and Louisiana, who personally worked the meat counter at the chain’s Southlake store where there was a run on chili meat.

He was not the only member of management to pitch in. On Friday, a produce truck got stuck in an ice-bound truck well at Kroger’s North Richland Hills store. Store manager Shawn Cram, co-manager Ed Hopkins and district manager Mardyl Nickerson got the truck freed by acquiring a pick and shovel from a nearby Home Depot to clear some of the ice.

“They then broke up a pallet and placed the boards under the tires to get the truck out of the well,” Huddleston said.

Peter Schroder, owner of Old Neighborhood Grill in Fort Worth’s Berkeley neighborhood, said he had no deliveries on Friday and only one Saturday. He heard that one major food service company had thousands of cartons backed up, waiting for road conditions to improve.

At Central Market stores, spokeswoman Heather Senter said, “There have been a few delays in deliveries, but products have been replenished throughout the weekend and Monday.”

Anticipating bad weather, Coors Distributing of Fort Worth moved extra kegs and longnecks before the weekend, and then resumed regular deliveries Monday.

“By the end of this workday, our inventories will once again be full at our retail customers,” CEO Larry Anfin said.

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