Home » Labor Shortage Continues To Be Biggest Issue Facing Delaware Grocers

Labor Shortage Continues To Be Biggest Issue Facing Delaware Grocers

retail Delaware Wenger
Julie Miro Wenger

Last updated on February 22nd, 2022 at 10:54 am

The economic outlook in Delaware is a bit brighter this year than last, with the state flush with money – primarily from the federal government, said Julie Miro Wenger, executive director of the Delaware Food Industry Council.

The operating budget for the state is expected to be $4.9 billion with $15. 2 million in reserves, said Wenger, adding that unemployment is down to 5.1 percent. However, the state currently is operating under a State of Emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an indoor mask mandate is in effect statewide, she said.

The pandemic continues to affect independent grocers in the state, with labor being the biggest challenge.

“We have been very fortunate to have many dedicated, hard-working employees in our stores throughout the state, but we constantly need to recruit more for our industry,” Wenger said.

While the pandemic has presented challenges, it also has highlighted the strength of the grocery industry.

“We are the backbone of our communities. We hire our neighbors and feed our residents. The pandemic really offered insight into our stores and their value and importance in our daily lives,” Wenger said. “We continue to face hurdles with the supply chain. However, we continue to adapt and pivot.”

The DFIC offers support to grocers in the state and has been working with Gov. John Carney, the legislature and regulators to address the challenges they face. “We have worked on emergency declarations during the pandemic and continue to monitor legislation and regulations that could have unintended consequences on how we are able to do business in the state of Delaware.”

In the legislature, the council is pursuing a plastic bag ban cleanup bill that will do four things, according to Wenger. It includes an exemption for pharmacy prescriptions and states that the size of bags should be right-sized for products and not mandated to hold four gallons of milk. In addition, the bill would push implementation to January 2023 instead of July 1, 2022 and ban paper bags as well. 

Wenger said there is a bill already signed by the governor that bans all single-use plastic bags at checkout except category bags, such as florist, fruits, vegetables and meat. She also said the DFIC is opposed to a bill introduced last session, SB 140, that would have banned polystyrene in retail establishments.

“We are opposed to a bill that would ban polystyrene trays for meats, fish, poultry and fruits and vegetables. We will continue to work on a compromise with the bill sponsor.”

Wegner also serves as executive director of Keep Delaware Beautiful. For more information, visit keepdelawarebeautiful.com.

For more Northeast news from The Shelby Report, click here.

About the author

Treva Bennett

Senior Content Creator

After 32 years in the newspaper industry, she is enjoying her new career exploring the world of groceries at The Shelby Report.

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