A grocery store worker bends down to pick up food items to stock shelves.
Labor shortages and shipping delays have contributed to a supply shortage for many grocery stores during summer 2021.
Tempura via Getty Images
  • Rouses Markets, a grocery chain, has struggled to stock its shelves in recent weeks, it told the WSJ.
  • CEO Donny Rouse said that it sometimes received just 40% of its orders from suppliers.
  • It has created its own version of the Lunchables snack because they have been hard to get, he said.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The CEO of a Southern supermarket chain says he's struggling to keep shelves full during a supply shortage, and that his company has resorted to creating its own version of Lunchables, Kraft Heinz's miniature cracker, cheese, and meat selection.

Donny Rouse, who runs Rouses Markets, told The Wall Street Journal that sometimes the chain receives about 40% of the items it orders from suppliers, compared to more than 90% before the pandemic.

"It is difficult for customers to get everything they want to get," Rouse told The Journal.

The chain – which has 65 stores across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama – has found new ways to plug gaps in its inventory. Jason Martinolich, Rouses' vice president of center store, told The Journal that the chain had sourced items from different brands and bought more private-label products.

Rouse told The Journal that he and his team had visited rival grocery stores to see what they were selling, and asked manufacturers why his competitors were able to get products that his company could not. He did not say whether he'd received answers.

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The 7,000-employee supermarket chain has also struggled to get Lunchables – Kraft Heinz's miniature cracker, cheese, and meat selection – and has instead started to create its own version of the popular snack with crackers, cheese, grapes, and meat, The Journal reported.

Kraft Heinz told The Journal there was record demand for Lunchables, that it was managing the supply chain, and that it was getting more products to customers.

Grocery stores have faced supply shortages in recent weeks, in part because of the labor shortage and high shipping costs.

Some retailers have stockpiled goods to keep their shelves full. Paul McLean, the chief merchandising officer of Stew Leonard's, a Connecticut supermarket chain, previously told Insider that the company had purchased 50% more items than usual, including pasta and olive oil.

Some evidence suggests that shoppers are also stockpiling goods as the Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads throughout the country, as they did in the early days of the pandemic.

Rouses and Kraft Heinz did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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