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'Never seen anything like it' | Why you could have trouble finding some foods for your Thanksgiving spread

Aluminum pricing and labor shortages are among the challenges for stores finding certain products to be stocked on shelves.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Heads up Mid-South shoppers; between now and Thanksgiving, it may be harder to find certain canned goods.

Food economists said aluminum costs and a labor shortage are slowing down supply against the growing demand. It's impacting everything from certain brands of canned soda to canned vegetables and tomato paste.

Experts said it will likely require more time and patience for shoppers as we approach the holiday, with ongoing pandemic production issues impacting certain food products.

"In my 25 years of looking at the food industry, I've never seen anything like it," Rodney Holcomb said, a food economist at Oklahoma State University. "Everyone is wanting a little more aluminum. It's just harder figuring out who is going to get it."

Holcomb said not only are there higher prices this year for aluminum, there's also fewer people currently processing it. This while demand for aluminum is higher than ever for products such as ready-to-eat food or sodas.

"They are moving away from glass to aluminum. It's safer. It's easier to transport, and for the most part, it's been a lot cheaper. You don't have to worry about breaks," Holcomb added.

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"The supply chain is in crisis now. There's no better way to say it," Katie Denis with Consumer Brands Association said.

Denis monitors supply and demand trends of canned goods and other items with the Consumer Brands Association. She worries the situation will get worse before it gets better.

"Coming into the holidays, that's the busiest time of year for shipping and that's going to put a lot more strain on the system," Denis said.

That's why economists offered this tip to Mid-South grocery shoppers.

"Buy only what you need and we'll be OK," Denis said. "I think one of things we learned early in the pandemic is when we panic buy and we stock too much then there isn't enough for everyone else."

Food economists also suggest picking up Thanksgiving side items that are canned goods here and there between now and the holiday to limit the risk of last minute shortages.