As preppers, we are obsessed with preserving our food sovereignty. For example, we enjoy growing gardens, pickling vegetables, and drying herbs. But it also means monitoring the local and global food economy and preparing for potential food shortages.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other natural disasters, in 2022, many of us experienced food shortages in our grocery stores due to a complex web of disruptions in the supply chains responsible for getting our favorite foods from farmers to our plates.
The insecurity many felt due to the food shortages in 2022 helped us learn many important lessons—one of which is preparing for more shortages in 2023.
Keep reading to learn about what food items may be harder to find or be more expensive in 2023.
We live in a complicated and interconnected world. Nowadays, the food we eat relies on a complex supply chain system for it to arrive successfully in our grocery stores and onto our plates at home.
Because so much of what we eat is built into a globalized food economy, when blips disrupt an otherwise “radio silent” radar, we feel the effects at home. In other words, when certain events stress parts of the supply chain responsible for getting food to the shelves of our local grocery store, we experience the shortages firsthand.
So what sort of events stress growing, harvesting, buying, selling, and eating our favorite foods?
Before we get into which items we recommend restocking for potential food shortages in 2023, we figured it would be worthwhile to talk about the difference between restocking the reserves in your prepper pantry and panic-buying.
Understanding the distinction between the two concepts is important and will allow you to avoid being part of the problem by emptying the shelves of grocery stores.
Restocking is the process of methodically securing food and other household items.
Restocking your reserves is driven by meaningful motivations:
These meaningful motivations that drive your restocking or stockpiling behaviors are different from panic buying.
Panic-buying in response to stressful or traumatic events such as the COVID-19 pandemic or natural disasters is characterized by an overall loss of control and irrational buying. It results from a complete disconnect between what products you already have and how much more you require for the immediate future.
Panic-buying is driven by fear, and rightfully so. Certain events that threaten our food security are scary. However, that should not mean that we lose control of what we purchase and empty the shelves. Panic-buying only takes those products away from someone else who needs and deserves them.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), corn growers are expected to plant 89.5 million acres of corn in 2022. If this sounds like a lot to you, it’s because it is. But in reality, it’s 4% less than the previous year. In particular, acreage decreases are expected in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.
The decrease in corn planting in 2022 amongst the states listed above will impact the yield size. Consequently, there could be noticeable differences in the presence (or lack thereof) of corn and corn-based products on grocery store shelves.
Experts in the industry do not expect empty shelves by any means. However, some do predict that higher prices for corn and corn-based products could be a result of the smaller planting and yield estimates as those products become available in 2023.
Ukraine and Russia are both major contributors to the global cereal economy. Together, Ukraine and Russia make up almost 20% of the market. In 2021 and 2022, Russia contributed 52.32 million tons of cereals, while Ukraine contributed 69.82 million.
Since then, the war between the two countries has increasingly worsened. For that reason, experts tend to agree that their cereal export will also worsen. As a result, consumers in the United States may notice fewer supplies and increased prices for their favorite cereal-related products.
Ukraine is also a major exporter of oilseeds, such as rapeseed and soybean. However, Ukraine's dominance in the oilseed economy is most exemplified in its sunflower seed exportation. In 2020, Ukraine was responsible for roughly 52% of the global sunflower seed and oil exports.
Russia also plays a role in the global oilseed economy. For example, in 2020, Russia contributed 20% of the sunflower seed and oil exports.
As you can imagine, the war has drastically disrupted the edible-oil supply chains and prices in their part of the world. Therefore, it’s not entirely implausible that we may feel these disruptions as they ripple through our oilseed markets in the United States.
In 2022, strong demand for beef and a faster-paced cow slaughter boosted beef production. As a result, fewer cows are expected to go to slaughter in 2023. For that reason, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) predicts beef production to decline between 2022 and 2023.
In comparison, the turkey and broiler production forecast predicts an increase of 1.8% and 2.2%, respectively. So as you begin to make plans for 2023, it seems strategic to consider buying a little extra beef and pork for storage. Or, more simply, invest in some freeze-dried meat.
Believe it or not, California is responsible for immense agricultural output. In fact, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), roughly ⅓ of the United States vegetables are grown in California, along with 75% of the country’s nuts and fruits. This includes tomatoes (if you agree they are fruits, of course).
But regardless of whether tomatoes are fruits or vegetables, the fact remains the same—California is an irreplaceable player in the food economy for the United States and other parts of the world.
Amidst growing all that food, California is also suffering through the driest three-year drought on record. California’s agricultural economy officials agree that the state is due for a fourth dry year in a row for 2023.
As California’s weather continues to remain dry, farmers and their crops will be negatively impacted. Moving forward, there could be shortages in certain food products exported from California, like tomatoes.
It is no surprise the prices of butter have continued to increase. The price increases have primarily been due to labor shortages in the butter industry, an outcome of COVID-19 sicknesses and prevention protocols. Consequently, in 2022, the stocks of butter fell to their lowest levels since 2017.
The good news is, we can expect an uptick in overall dairy production during 2023. However, that does not necessarily mean that prices for butter will return to what we are accustomed to. For example, some experts predict that the cost of butter in 2023 will be roughly 63 cents higher than in 2021.
The higher prices for butter may incentivize grocery stores to purchase less of it. Therefore, there may be less butter on the shelves for consumers. This may be true towards the beginning of 2023 as the stores recover from an increase in butter purchases for the “baking season” and a string of beloved holidays.
Losing your calm and panic-buying food and other household products is not the solution to potential food shortages. If you begin to notice local food shortages in your area, or better yet, if you want to prepare ahead of time, we recommend taking some of the following steps.
Food and supply-chain experts still do not totally agree if the United States will experience massive food shortages in 2023. In other words, we probably don’t have to worry about 100% empty grocery stores.
However, expecting shortages in certain items and higher prices is plausible. This may impact the frequency with which you are used to buying certain products and the budget you’ve created for doing so.
With that being said, it never hurts to be prepared. Just remember to resupply responsibly.