Pandemic causing pet food shortages

It's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions to the supply chain. Empty shelves were common at grocery stores during the start of the pandemic.

Some pet shops and companies say they are dealing with this issue right now. Pauline Gratt, the manager at Pet Town on the Upper East Side, said the problem is affecting food for cats and dogs

"The fast few months we have seen more shortages, some more significant than others. It's been mostly canned food," Gratt said. "A lot of beef-based items. It will be a certain protein that they can't offer for a certain time."  

Pet owners said they've also taken notice. 

"There were a couple of times that I remember their supply on the cat food was a little lower than normal, based on the brand that I like," Danny Kayton said.

In an online message, Royal Canin, a pet food manufacturer, apologized to customers for the problems with availability.

"We take full responsibility for this, and deeply regret the impact that these issues may have on you and your pets that we are so privileged to feed," Royal Canin said. "We have experienced incredible growth in demand for our products at a time when a broader global crisis is putting additional strain on all of us."

The retailer Petco has also seen a disruption in supply, the company said. It cited data showing a spike in pet ownership over the course of the pandemic. 

"Due to overall Covid-related disruption to the production of goods, it's possible pet parents may not find a specific item or flavor of wet food for cats on the shelf on a given day," Petco said. "However, Petco locations carry a vast nationwide assortment of wet food for cats and have plenty of options readily available."

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Pet Town's Gratt said this situation has a good side and a bad side. 

"The good side is that a lot of pets have been adopted and that they have their forever home," Gratt said. "The challenge is we now have to feed them. So be patient with us."

Pet industry leaders discussed the problem Wednesday during a virtual pet expo. They say supply and demand issues have improved since the start of the pandemic but consumers will continue to see shortages here and there in the spring.