A few days ago I stumbled onto a very interesting Twitter thread:
Once you look into supermarket supply chains in the UK, and how they work, you’ll see that the supermarket has all the power over which suppliers they stock goods from – if a supplier can’t make a shipment, their product will just be delisted and replaced on the supermarket shelves.
That means that when the supply chain becomes strained, the supermarket will begin to prioritise what gets stocked and what doesn’t, and they’ll sort that priority by tiers – how essential a product is. For bulky items like alcohol, that means forgetting the craft beer and stocking the generic brands – Fosters, Bud, whatever.
As @garius points out later in his absolutely fascinating thread, it’s very hard to get mince pie filling at Christmas, despite that seeming like the best time for supermarkets to overstock it, and that’s because of how these priority tiers work. The just-in-time stocking system supermarkets use is always on the verge of strain by design – that’s what’s cheapest – so it goes under mild strain every Christmas, like clockwork.
Mince pie filling isn’t essential for the majority of Christmas shoppers. It’s a “tier 2” good, as opposed to essential “tier 1s” like turkey and stuffing, which MUST be stocked, and which get the mince pie filling’s spot on the lorry as soon as strain begins to affect the supply line.
So What Am I Looking Out For?
When you’re doing your shopping, if you notice all the trendy, small-brewery ales in the booze section are gone, that’s a red flag. The generics like Bud or Carling will still be in stock (so long as the supply chain doesn’t collapse completely, but that’d be obvious enough that you won’t need me to tell you what to look for) since there’s more demand for those and the huge breweries that make the generics can throw considerable incentives at the supermarkets for choosing their product instead.
The supply chain collapse will begin with reduced variety and more generic products, as smaller competitors are edged out. If things get worse, even those big-brand products will start failing to turn up on the shelves.
Take every second of early warning you can, and make sure you’re ready!
What do I do?
If you’re worried, check out our Starting Stockpile Shopping List – it should give you some inspiration to start preparing a small larder or stockpile that you can use to weather shocks to the food supply, or which can protect you from having to go outside in the event of storms, unrest, disease waves or any other nonsense you’d be better off avoiding.
I’ll be updating this site with food-related preps and alternative sources of goods etc as much as I can, so check back here every once in a while too!
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