Scene: A Lidl supermarket in the 21st district of Vienna. Above the department with various canned foods is an information sheet: Customers are allowed to buy “temporarily a maximum of five canned goods”. Is that already an expression of a food shortage? The company’s answer could be described as a clear yes.
“It is important to us that all of our customers have the same opportunities for our products. That’s why we have always defined a levy in household quantities for all of our items throughout the year. In some cases, it must also be pointed out – as is currently the case with canned goods,” said the spokesman to “Today”.
What sounds like a whimsical incident in a Viennese supermarket has long been deadly serious – and above all not an isolated case. Due to the shortage of certain ingredients, supermarkets have long been rationing goods to avoid panic buying. “Especially with cooking oil, especially sunflower oil, there are still bottlenecks,” says Trade Association Managing Director Rainer Will.
For some other product groups, including butter, feminine hygiene products and preserves, traders would continue to experience a tense situation. However, this is “not yet to be regarded as critical”, since fortunately there are alternative products.
According to Rainer Will, however, it is not always the raw materials that make products scarce or more expensive. There are also massive price jumps for packaging materials such as paper and cardboard. “The industry is canceling campaigns and reducing quantities, especially in the fresh food sector, with dairy products, sausage and occasionally bread and pastries,” says Will. Accordingly, there was a risk of further rationing in supermarkets.