WASHINGTON (TND) — A former grocery store worker turned product coordinator says he’s trying to get a grip on empty store shelves and navigate historic shipping delays.
The Denver-area supply chain worker says he knows that the lack of products at local grocery stores is beyond frustrating. Right now, he’s urging everyone to remain patient as the industry scrambles over shortages.
“The shelves turned dystopian almost immediately. It was so strange,” Adam Kaat said.
In March 2020, Kaat was working for a local grocery store.
“Produce was gone, toilet paper, yeast, canned goods, pretty much everything was off the shelves,” said Kaat.
Since that lockdown era of the pandemic, Kaat has shifted into a new role, in a new crisis. He’s now coordinating the supply chain for a food distributor, managing headaches and expectations along the way.
“It’s a struggle all the time on every angle," Kaat said. "I have a lot of different emails, a lot of upset customers and on a regular basis from distributors."
He juggles communication between buyers and carriers to get dairy products, mostly, onto store shelves.
"If we don’t have enough truckers that means you’re shifting around the labor and yeah, everyone is shorted,” Kaat said.
Just this week, grocery chain Giant Food warned shoppers of a "significant strain" filling bare shelves, one month after the president touted his administration's progress on the supply chain.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo doubled down Thursday, saying, “we in the administration under President Biden's leadership, we're doing everything we can, including working on the supply chain issues. We've seen really excellent results, reducing congestion at the ports, we're training more truck drivers."
With labor shortages still crippling the supply chain, Kaat warns that it'll be a slow return to normal and he's calling on customers to treat those essential grocery store workers with kindness.
“I know you can’t see their face and that’s weird but smile with your eyes and be polite. Like, I don’t think that’s too much to ask,” Kaat said.
From cashier to coordinator, Kaat has written about the full circle experience through the pandemic and beyond in his book, Life on the Grocery Line — a snapshot of America during one its toughest challenges.