New Brunswick stores facing shortages, caused by multiple factors

    Empty bakery shelves are seen in this photo taken at the Sobeys location on Regent Street in Fredericton, N.B. on Jan. 28, 2022. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    While grocery and supplies shortages in 2020 were caused by stockpiling due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, this year’s grocery store shortage is the result of multiple factors within the transportation industry such as snowstorms and low recruitment of truck drivers.

    Jean-Marc Picard, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA), said weather conditions are the primary cause of delays in Atlantic Canada.

    “There were some weather events [that] always create disruptions. [The cause] was roads washed out this year, which created destruction,” he said.

    Low recruitment is also affecting the trucking industry. At the beginning of the pandemic, driver’s training schools and immigration programs shut down, creating a “big gap,” said Picard.

    “Everybody could use more drivers, it’s well-documented. The industry is busy,” he said.

    Picard said he thinks the protests against the vaccine mandate are not a significant cause of the shortage because around 90 per cent of drivers in the Atlantic provinces are fully-vaccinated. Although APTA has no power to impose mandates, they can provide resources to private companies to get their staff vaccinated.

    “[APTA] didn’t really have a role to play … We support companies as much as we can,” he said.

    Empty shelves are seen in this photograph taken inside the Atlantic Superstore in Oromocto, N.B. (Jessica Saulnier/AQ)

    Robbie Patrick, a stock clerk at Bulk Barn, said trucks are coming later than usual, which is affecting certain products.

    “There’s a handful of items like psyllium husk for example that we can’t get in for the past five weeks,” he said.

    Sequoia Fredericton, a local store specialized in natural and healthy products, also had shortages. 

    Eleanor Waite, the manager of customer relations at Sequoia Fredericton, said there were shortages overall since the start of the pandemic.

    “There’s been a bit of a shortage in some of our meat substitutes, as well as kombucha,” she said.

    In both grocery stores, some health products increased in price due to these delays.

    Waite said her store is lucky suppliers haven’t started charging more for products. She said there was a slight increase in the price of the cultured coconut, which is a probiotic Sequoia sells.

    These products can be an important contribution to the health habits of certain individuals. 

    “For some people, it’s something as simple as a snack that they really liked that they can’t get. But for some people it’s something as necessary as a supplement or specific food type that they really need,” said Waite.

    Picard said the shortages will not leave people without any essential products.

    “We’ll make sure that everybody has what they need every day,” said Picard.