(WJHL)- Food City’s CEO Steve Smith updated the public in an online news conference Tuesday as many are still concerned about adequate supplies in stores locally, and across the nation.
Smith said that the company is working to “alleviate bottlenecks” in the supply chain, and stressed that the stores will not run out of food.
He urged consumers to stop hoarding groceries to allow the supply chain to catch back up. Consumers should continue weekly shopping trips and replenish personal supplies on a weekly basis.
“Being concerned about the possibility of shortages, it’s only natural, it’s human nature,” Smith said. “Responding to that fear with panic buying is ironically the leading contributor to these shortages.”
He estimated it could take weeks or months for the supply chain to catch up to increased demand. Among the efforts to re-establish the chain, manufacturers may be scaling back on the items they produce, and customers should expect to see those changes reflected on the shelves.
In addition, items in high demand will be limited throughout Food City stores in order to ensure they get into the hands of as many customers as possible.
“(Manufacturers) are reducing the number of items that they are producing and limiting varieties and flavors in order to focus their efforts on increasing the productivity and production of their core items due to this extreme high demand,” Smith said.
Smith said he can’t predict where the next shortages will hit: Two weeks ago, customers cleared shelves of toilet paper and paper products, and last week, Smith reported challenges keeping meet and other perishable items in stock.
High-demand items like toilet paper and sanitizer are being distributed “fairly” to all of Food City’s stores, he said.
Consumers should expect continuing stocking issues, but Smith assures the community that the chain won’t run out of food.
Since Food City put out the all-call that they were hiring due to the increased demand, Smith said they’ve already been able to hire 1,200 people.
He said about 140 employees have been relocated to the company’s distribution center, and the chain is still hiring about 30 distribution positions.
In addition, the company has some workers “on loan” from other Johnson City businesses to help with supply. Once new hires are trained in their stores, he said he hopes to see deliveries increase to help with individual store supply.
The company is also implementing a $3 million dollar bonus system for its employees, he added.
Food City stores are currently not accepting returns on any items due to cross-contamination concerns. Smith said that associates are working diligently to promote a clean, safe environment for shoppers as the virus continues its spread in local communities.
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