Fact check: Photos of bare, fully stocked grocery store shelves shared online to support false claim
The claim: Images show grocery shelves taken during Biden and Trump presidencies
Grocery stores across the nation are facing challenges stocking limited quantities of products due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a shortage of employees along with shipping congestion at the Port of Los Angeles.
As supply chain issues are expected to worsen and grocers place limits on the purchase of certain items, some people have taken to Twitter to criticize President Joe Biden with the hashtag #BareShelvesBiden.
Meanwhile, some social media users have used an outdated image captured outside of the U.S., asserting that the scenes depict current situations at grocery stores.
An Oct. 12 Facebook post with more than 78,000 shares juxtaposes two photos: One of empty grocery store shelves presented as “Bidens America” and one of fully stocked shelves labeled "Trumps America."
But the images included in the post are unrelated to the global supply chain crisis.
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The Facebook user who shared the post did not return a request for comment.
Photos are misleading
While certain products remain scarce at grocery stores, the photo of “Trumps America” was actually captured in 2012, and the image of “Bidens America” is from 2018, the Associated Press reported.
The top image shows fully stocked grocery shelves at a Coles Supermarket at Westfield Southland Shopping Centre in Melbourne, Australia, according to the photo’s caption. Additionally, the image in question was taken in December 2012, when President Barack Obama occupied the White House.
The photo of empty grocery shelves claiming to show “Bidens America” was taken after Hurricane Florence struck the Carolinas in September 2018, when Donald Trump was president.
“Randy Spivey, Hills manager, concerned about when he can get his shelves restocked after Hurricane Florence and the flood that hit the area recently,” reads the photo’s caption in a 2018 article in My Horry News, a local news source in Horry County, South Carolina.
At the time, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services estimated the hurricane caused $1.1 billion in damages to major crops and livestock in North Carolina. Residents shared images of empty grocery shelves, retailers in South Carolina temporarily closed their locations, and gas stations reported shortages.
Fact-check organizations have recently debunked similar photos purporting to show bare shelves at U.S. supermarkets.
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As of Oct. 20, the Department of Agriculture says there are "currently no nationwide shortages of food." However, there have been widespread supply chain issues, and local outlets have reported that grocery stores are dealing with empty shelves.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that images show grocery store shelves during Biden and Trump presidencies. The photo of fully stocked shelves was captured in 2012 in Australia, and the image of empty shelves was taken in 2018 after Hurricane Florence. Some retailers are dealing with supply shortages, but the photos have been inaccurately portrayed in the post.
Our fact-check sources:
USA TODAY, Oct. 15, Grocery store shelves bare? These products may be hard to find amid supply chain disruptions
Associated Press, Oct. 15, Photos don't show grocery shelves during Trump and Biden presidencies
Wikimedia Commons, Dec. 27, 2012, File: Faced products on a supermarket shelf (archived)
The White House Historical Association, accessed Oct. 19, The Presidents Timeline
My Horry News, Sept. 25, 2018, Customers find bare shelves after storm passes
My Horry News, accessed Oct. 19, About Us
North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Sept. 26, 2018, Total agricultural losses estimated at over $1.1 billion
BBC Weather, Sept. 11, Tweet
Supermarket News, Sept. 15, 2018, Hurricane Florence forces grocery store closings
Citizen-Times, Sept. 13, Panic buying ahead of Hurricane Florence causes temporary gas shortage in Asheville
Department of Agriculture, accessed Oct. 20, Access to Food
USA TODAY, Oct. 1, Food prices are climbing amid worker shortages, supply-chain problems, extreme weather and more
USA TODAY, Oct. 13, Food prices and inflation keep going up but here are 3 tips to save on groceries
ABC 7, Oct. 19, Global supply chain problems now leading to empty shelves at grocery stores
Reuters, Oct. 15, Fact Check-Images do not show empty shelves in U.S. supermarkets in October 2021
PolitiFact, Oct. 13, Conservative commentator uses outdated photo in botched attack on 'Build Back Better'
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: 'Bidens America' grocery store image was taken in 2018