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Bay Area Grocery Stores Struggle To Keep Shelves Full Amid Supply Issues, COVID Staffing Shortages

REDWOOD CITY (KPIX 5) – Global supply issues, winter weather impacting delivery trucks on the East Coast and record high COVID-19 infections have all come to a head, and are impacting grocery stores in the Bay Area and across the nation.

A KPIX 5 camera captured empty shelves at Whole Foods locations in Campbell, Palo Alto and Redwood City. But the supermarket chain is not the only company experiencing low inventory.

Social media users have posted empty shelves at Trader Joe's, Safeway and Target stores across the country for days.

"Because of warehouse shortages, because of truck driving shortages, companies are shipping partial orders and not shipping at all," Fruit Center Marketplace Co-owner Michael Mignosa told Boston CBS station WBZ-TV.

The issues appear to be sporadic with some commenting on social media that stores in their cities are well-stocked.

Palo Alto resident Carrie Riggins said she noticed empty shelves at her neighborhood Whole Foods several days ago.

"A lot of the produce is just out, like the green onions are just gone, the green apples I was looking for weren't there," Riggins said. "I'm wondering if the workers that normally tend to those things are just out sick."

An employee, who wanted to remain anonymous, told KPIX 5 that the entire seafood department at the Campbell Whole Foods has been out sick with COVID-19 for weeks, shipments have been sparse and consumer demand is driving up prices.

On Wednesday afternoon, members of the Raging Grannies Action League and Vigil for Democracy gathered outside the Whole Foods in Palo Alto as a show of support for workers.

"The shelves are empty, the workers look very sad and tired," said Ruth Robertson who was among the group. "The problem is that when people get sick, when people get tired, when people are mistreated they don't come to work; and do you want them to come to work if they feel like they're sick."

Whole Foods had not yet responded to KPIX 5's request for comment.

"I expect in the coming weeks, we will continue to face supply challenges," said National Grocers Association President and CEO Greg Ferrara. "Those challenges will be sporadic, and they will impact different areas at different times."

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