CORNISH, Maine — If you've been to your local grocery store or any food store in general, you might have noticed the shelves were a bit more bare than usual.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus outbreak is causing a big supply and demand issue for grocery stores around the state. One store manager said it's not a matter of if the products are available, it's if they can get them here.
"All our wholesales that we work with are saying they are scrambling to get product," Call's store manager, Paul Martin said. "There's plenty of products available it's just a matter of getting it from point a, to b point b to c...c being the grocery store."
One of the store's cashiers, Emily Parker said she lost count of the number of customers that have come in in the last few days. She said some people are sticking to the basics, others are buying cartloads full. Parker has also seen a number of people who have come in shopping for elderly neighbors or others who don't want to risk going out in a small town.
"I remember when I was in high school I wanted to move away, and then I started working here," Parker said. "And then, you know, you realize how important community is because everyone is there for each other."
Those stocking the shelves and freezers said they are busy all day every day. Alex Guignard said most times they get through putting away half a shipment and the shelves need to be re-stocked.
"I've heard we have more in stock than others, but we are still running out of stuff," Guignard said. "We're just doing the best we can with what we have right now."
While many of Maine's elderly are most likely quarantined at home, some still need to go out and get their prescriptions. Call's Pharmacist, Kevin Ledue said he doesn't foresee his department running out of anything people will need, but he doesn't want to see medicine end up in the same high-demand category as toilet paper.
He also said if anyone who gets their prescriptions there does not feel comfortable coming inside the store right now, they can call and arrange an outside pickup to reduce any kind of risk.
"We’re not going anywhere, we’re going to be here the whole time to help fill your medication," Ledue said. "We don’t want to see what happened with toilet paper so, take the best options you can to keep on hand."
Both of Maine's largest grocery store chains echoed this in statements they released earlier this week. You can read them below.
We are confident that Hannaford will continue to meet the needs of local communities. The food supply chain in the United States is healthy so this is not a supply issue. It’s just that we are seeing unprecedented demand nationwide. The challenge is getting product delivered and on store shelves at a speed that matches this extraordinary demand. As mentioned, we continue to work as quickly as possible to replenish specific high-demand items
when a low inventory occurs--and, we’re working closely with our suppliers to
provide our customers with the products they need. We’re also searching widely for new sources of supplies. It is important for all of us at this time to be
mindful of other customers who also have needs. To that end, we encourage
customers to purchase what they need and leave some for others.