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NextGen Magazine


Canned Corn Tougher to Find

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Oct 14, 2020

Supply chain shocks from the pandemic have impacted the supply of canned corn, making it more difficult to find at the supermarket, reported the Wall Street Journal.

This shortage is the consequence of several different factors particular to the corn industry. One is that edible sweet corn is only a small part of the overall corn harvest. The National Corn Growers Association says that about 40 percent of corn is fed to livestock, and about 30 percent is used for ethanol production. Within corn used for human consumption, the biggest percentage is for the production of high-fructose corn syrup, at 3.1 percent, followed by other sweeteners; 2.5 percent; and corn starch, 1.6 percent, with "cereal/other" making up 1.5 percent, outdoing corn used for beverages such as bourbon, 1.1 percent. So, basically, even though corn is the United States' primary grain, there's very little that's grown to be eaten directly. The Journal noted that, within this sphere, corn used for canning is actually the smallest portion of the harvest.

Another factor has been people hoarding canned corn, similarly to toilet paper. But since corn is harvested only once a year, the Journal said, retailers wound up exhausting their supplies early in the year, with the next harvest months away. Complicating matters has been the lack of truckers to move the corn, as fleets have seen reduced numbers due to the pandemic, which has driven up the price of land freight and caused truckers to cancel contracts for more lucrative orders. And while companies might have reacted to a shortage of anything else with substitutes, this can't be done with canned corn. While the corn harvest has begun and canned corn brands plan to increase production by 25 percent, they will be starting with a lower stock given this year's issues.