Supermarkets continuing to reopen; distributors slammed by demand 

The inside of Hi Nabor’s Broadmoor location taken in 2014. (Don Kadair)

A growing number of grocery stores are reopening in the wake of Hurricane Ida, and keeping shelves stocked is keeping distributors slammed.

As of Tuesday night, at least 30 supermarkets in the Baton Rouge area were open for business, a number that is expected to more than double by the end of today. For Associated Grocers, which services more than 200 independent supermarkets in the region, the challenges have been three fold, says AG President Manard Lagasse.

• Communication with member stores, due to continued and widespread power, cellular and internet outages throughout the region;

• Keeping the lights on at member stores that do not have power and are operating on generators;

• Accessing stores in hard-hit areas.

On the bright side:

• Staffing levels are good and almost all drivers are back on the job;

• There don’t appear to be any supply-chain issues related to the storm and so far no shortages at the wholesale level beyond what the sector was already experiencing due to COVID.

“We are not aware of any inbound delivery issues,” Lagasse says. “Essentially, our inbound supply is still as steady as it was before the storm but we are all dealing with supply chain issues related to COVID.”

Lagasse says it’s too early to tell how food prices might be impacted by the gasoline shortage, which is expected to continue throughout the area for several weeks.

While some local supermarkets were still struggling to reopen this morning, others were operating fairly normally.

The Calandro’s on Perkins Road is operating on regular power and is fully stocked, except for the dairy products it lost. The store is crowded but lines are not too long, says manager Amanda Bates.

Hi Nabor’s three locations are operating and extremely busy today.

“We are slammed, especially the hot deli,” says Hi Nabor’s Jim Crifasi. “All things considered, we are blessed and most of our employees are showing up.”