How Heat Waves Are Affecting Your Groceries

If you're noticing bare shelves, the high temperatures could be to blame.

It's still pretty dang hot out there. Even though there have been whispers of fall in some parts of the country, the world at large is still under extreme temperatures, and no one is in the clear yet. While some may think they can just crank up their air conditioning and avoid the pitfalls of the climate crisis, that's just not the case. Grocery stores in particular are being impacted in ways that you might not even realize as temperatures continue to rise.

Higher heat, lower grocery supply

Last month Mother Jones reported on "heatflation"—that's right, hot weather is yet another factor responsible for rising grocery prices. That's in part because heat waves are prone to cause wildfires and droughts that destroy crops and can devastate livestock. In Sardinia, the change in climate has prompted a locust invasion, which is hurting crop production. In China, the corn and soy used to feed pigs is dying out, causing pork prices to rise. In India, the heat's negative impact on the country's wheat plants led to a wheat export ban.


Certain products that manage to make it to the shelves aren't around for very long. The heat prompts high demand for seemingly cooling foods and drinks and so shoppers might not see as much ice cream, bottled water, and rosé in stores. According to The Guardian, in the UK, where temperatures in the past few weeks have surpassed 100 degrees, ice cream sales are up 150% from last year while rosé sales are up 49%.

Users on the Trader Joe's subreddit have noticed the heat's effects literally creeping into stores: the open top freezers in the TJ's frozen food section aren't made to ward off the heat that creeps into the store as customers come and go, and as a result, many of the items end up being not as frozen as they should be. The comments on the Reddit thread include many alleged instances of shoppers finding completely defrosted—and in some cases, bloated—packages in the freezer cases, resulting in a complaint to an employee who would simply throw those items out.


Even if your region is currently in the clear for a heat wave, the world is only getting hotter, and these waves are likely going to become more frequent than less. Come winter, stock up on rosé, ice cream, and as many Trader Joe's prepared meals as your freezer can handle, and you might be set for the next one.