By Cristina Mendez

BALTIMORE (WJZ) —  Maryland’s grocery stores are struggling to keep products on their shelves as well as workers amid the surge in Omicron and ongoing supply chain issues.

The winter weather blunder has also played a role in the stripped selection of food and other products usually in abundance at local grocery stores.

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The variant is the cause of a food supply chain shortage in the Baltimore area, according to Ravi Srinivasan, an associate professor with Loyola University Maryland.

The industry is labor-related, which means the people who pack the food, deliver it to stores and stock the shelves are being impacted. The variant has caused more people to call in sick, which has left some stores to scramble, Srinivasan explained.

Many WJZ viewers have seen bare shelves across the area, mainly in chain retail grocers.

“No fresh vegetables were available. In the freezer, they’re getting lower and lower in just about everything. There’s no ground meat, no little steaks, nothing. There was none in the beef department that I could afford” Carney resident Aurelia Dillon said.

Experts confirm that as demand stays the same but supply goes down, prices will be forced upward.

“There are several challenges all retailers are facing at the moment that have impacted our ability to execute our business to our normal standards, Giant spokesperson Felismina Andrade said. “Most significantly, the prolonged pandemic and last week’s weather has caused continued strain on our supply chain, but our Giant teams are working with our manufacturing partners to replenish shelves as quickly as possible.”

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Some locally-owned groceries, including Di Pasquale’s in Baltimore City, have also faced challenges through this time.

“Lots of disruptions, lots of adjusting and alternative ways we have to come up with,” owner Joseph Di Pasquale said.

According to Di Pasquale, small businesses have more flexibility in filling vendor voids than chain grocers.

“The big-box chains are sort of locked in. They’re committed to certain brands and certain manufacturers whereas we’re not locked in.”

Maryland’s grocery stores are struggling to keep products on their shelves as well as workers amid the surge in Omicron and ongoing supply chain issues.

Grocery stores are expected to return to a sense of normalcy in the next three to four weeks once workers are able to return to their shifts following the Omicron surge, according to Srinivasan.

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Cristina Mendez