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When demand is greater than supply: 10 items that are in shortage right now

And the shortage might not end any time soon

Photo by Megan Varner
Photo by Megan Varner (Getty Images)

Anyone who has taken an economics class knows the importance of where the demand and supply curve intersect, but right now, for many common items, that point is nowhere close to existence.

Mostly due to the pandemic, but partly due to other unforeseen occurrences -- such as the deep freeze in Texas this winter and the recent cyberattack on a U.S. pipeline -- supply for the following 10 items or services is low, and this will likely continue into the coming months, according to Business Insider.


Chicken

There are several factors as to why the most popular meat in the U.S. is in short supply, according to the Washington Post. The pandemic created both more demand among people for takeout meals and disruptions in the supply chain; the winter storms in Texas halted processors; and there’s increased competition and volatile feed prices. These are just a few reasons for shortages in chicken.

This has affected the price and availability of popular items such as wings and fried chicken sandwiches.

Computer chips

This a wide-ranging problem that is not just affecting the production of computers, such as the iPad or iMac, which Apple has said will have to be delayed due to the shortage. It’s also affecting the production of cars, which increasingly are built with technological features in place. A semiconductor shortage could result in an estimated $61 billion revenue loss this year, according to Alix Partners.

Production has been delayed at various Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen, Ford and Fiat Chrysler plants -- and prices have gone up at dealerships. If that weren’t enough, the shortage has also affected, surprisingly enough, the dog-washing industry, according to the Washington Post. Read more about that here.

Gas

While the Texas freeze that shut down refineries and the cyberattack on the pipeline helped drive up prices, the biggest problem is a shortage of available drivers to deliver trucks carrying gas to stations, according to OilPrice.com.

The pandemic caused a lot of experienced drivers near or at retirement age to retire, and it takes a special certification to become a driver of the trucks carrying gas. This has caused 20% to 25% of trucks to be “parked” due to a lack of drivers, according to CNN.

Hot dogs/bacon

The combination of a pig shortage due to disease and outbreaks in 167 meat-processing plants created lower production of hot dogs and bacon throughout the year. As the summer months arrive and more people want to have these items for cookouts or camping trips, demand could be greater than supply.

Household items

Shipping costs and port delays have created a shortage for common household items such as toilet paper, tampons and diapers. This has led companies that produce such items to increase prices.

Imported items

Due to significant shipping delays, imported items such as coffee, cheese, seafood and olive oil have been in short supply.

Lumber

The pandemic forced a temporary shutdown of lumber mills, but the housing market never shut down. In particular, with more people working from home, there has been a greater demand for additions to current homes or the construction of new homes with more space. According to the National Association of Home Builders, lumber prices added $36,000 to the cost of a new home.

Plastic

Texas is a key producer of plastic, and the freezing winter weather that caused plants to shut down had a ripple effect that’s still being felt. Rising plastic prices due to shortages have led to a 40% increase in packaging costs, according to the Financial Times.

Rental cars

With restrictions loosening and more people having a desire to travel, the demand for rental cars is going up. The problem is, because of the pandemic and no demand last year, many rental car companies sold off significant parts of their fleets, leaving a shortage of cars to rent. Used cars are also in short supply, given new-car production has slowed down and buyers are looking more at older cars.

Ride-share drivers

The pandemic led to many Uber and Lyft drivers leaving those companies due to safety concerns, but demand for those services didn’t go away, with Uber reporting its highest-ever number of bookings in March.

Both Uber and Lyft are trying desperately to lure drivers back, with Uber saying it will invest $250 million into recruiting drivers.


About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.