Florida grocery chains work to reopen following Hurricane Irma
Correction: In a previous version of this article, we incorrectly stated that Food Lion has operations in Florida. Food Lion, which operates more than 1,100 grocery stores in 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, does not have any stores in Florida.
- Supermarkets are working to repair damage, restock shelves and reopen stores in Florida following Hurricane Irma, according to CNBC. Grocery chains with a large presence in Florida include Publix, Walmart, Costco, Winn-Dixie and BJ’s Wholesale Club.
- The greatest challenge is getting fresh produce back in stock and serving customers because power remains out for many stores and close to 6 million Florida residents.
- Florida's orange growing industry also has felt the impact of Hurrican Irma. Orange juice futures traded roughly 3.5% lower on Monday, after rising close to 13% last week in anticipation of the hurricane's damage. The storm's damange in much of the state was less than many initially feared. Florida is the world’s second-largest orange juice producer, behind Brazil.
Florida grocery chains, which helped consumers stock up ahead of Hurricane Irma, are now scrambling to get back online as supplies are scarce for many of these same shoppers. Getting power back on is a top priority, as is repairing damage to stores. Once operations are cleared for reentry, shoppers will no doubt rush to refill the non-perishable goods that were cleared out in the days ahead of the hurricane.
Publix, based in Lakeland, has been tweeting information about store closures, and posting updates on its website. Amazon-owned Whole Foods also has used social media to keep the public informed on which stores would be closed during Irma.
Severe storms are a crucial sales opportunity for retailers, but they're most importantly an opportunity to connect with consumers. Florida customers need constant updates on which stores are open and selling to the public. The more these stores do to keep people informed, the better they’re serving their customers and reinforcing their role as trusted resources in the communities where they operate.
While stores wait for power to return, many are focusing on restocking crucial non-perishable food items. Walmart is slated to deliver 1,700 truckloads of essential supplies to Florida, and Target will be sending trailers that were loaded with goods before the hurricane hit. When power has been restored, refrigerated products, such as milk, eggs and meat, will be restocked.
Grocery chains in Florida and across the country also are facing the impact Hurricane Irma had on major crops in the state. The Commodity Weather Group estimates this season’s citrus crop may get reduced by up to 12%, and grapefruit by a larger amount. Florida also is a large producer of sugar cane, providing the country with half its supply. Irma may have destroyed close to 10% of the crop.
The reduced inventory for citrus fruit and sugar cane could lead to higher prices in the near future for both consumers and retailers. In addition, it could hike the cost of CPGs that use these ingredients. Even if the storm only affected the southeastern U.S., it could be that the entire country ends up feeling Hurricane Irma's wrath.