The lid manufacturing companies apparently are producing at a brisk pace – on an around-the-clock basis in some instances – but simply cannot keep up with the swollen demand. This is the Herald’s observation after a series of contacts with manufacturers, wholesalers and retail outlets.
Who can say there isn’t some manipulating in distribution? And observers believe there’s too much anticipatory buying – call it fear and-or greed or maybe just plain hoarding.
In any event, the shortage could continue for some time unless the call for imported lids eases the situation soon.
Manufacturers were caught by surprise last year by the unexpected demand for canning supplies. The Agriculture Department estimated that because of rising prices, six million Americans tried their hands at home gardening for the first time.
The 1974 shortage, however, involved both jars and lids. For the most part this year there have been complete canning outfits available; it’s the replacement lids that disappear almost the minute they hit store shelves.
One major wholesaler in Salt Lake City told the Herald it is getting about six cases per month for each of its 200 stores. Another said it receives about 1000 cases a month, but has 400 stores on the distribution list.
The upsurge in gardening has continued this year, maybe even at an accelerated pace here in Utah.
Some housewives have turned to alternate methods of preserving fruits and vegetables, such as drying or freezing. But the canning lid demand goes on.
According to Nancy Harvey Steorts, special assistant to the secretary of agriculture for consumer affairs, projections on the 1975 need of lids was well within the production capacity of the manufacturers.
However, because of anxiety, home canners started asking for lids before they normally would. In Florida and other southern states with early canning seasons, housewives and tourists bought up heavy supplies of lids in late winter and early spring.
Thus, the shortage was inevitable before the canning season got under way in the West.
“We truly believe that if home canners buy just the lids they need for this season, there will be enough to go around,” says Mrs. Steorts. “However, if hoarding continues, there won’t be enough no matter how many lids are placed on the market.”
We hope the lady is right on the first point, and urge people to take her advice on the second. Certainly cooperation is needed from every possible source in finding a solution to the problem.