Supermarkets have raised flags about a spike in demand for goods like toilet paper, which saw severe shortages during lockdown. Germany's agriculture minister said hoarding was "illogical" and "lacked solidarity."
Germany's Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner urged consumers on Sunday to avoid stockpiling, as coronavirus infections have risen and with it, anxiety levels about possible lockdowns.
In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, Klöckner tried to assuage fears by reminding Germans that the pandemic did not affect or endanger the food supply chain. The disruptions, instead, are brought on by consumer activity.
The agriculture minister spoke specifically about hamsterkauf, a German term that defines panic-buying and became one of the symbols of the pandemic lockdown experience in Germany.
"Whoever is hoarding is not only acting illogically, but lacking solidarity. And in the end, many of these goods end up in the garbage can," Klöckner said.
Her comments come as large supermarket chains such as Aldi and Edeka reported a sharp rising demand for certain products, a pattern similar to what happened in March in the lead-up to lockdown measures being imposed.
On social media, many German users have been posting photos of shelves empty of toilet paper — one consumer product that saw severe shortages in the spring.
Klöckner added the spring lockdown experience had proven that economies can ride out a pandemic, that consumers could trust that policymakers and business leaders to manage the crisis responsibly.
In particular, she pointed that EU commitment to not impose border closures again provided more confidence about the flow of commerce within the bloc. As such, worries that worsening outbreaks would cause bottlenecks in the supply chain of consumer goods were unfounded, Klöckner said.
Bottom line, the Agriculture Minister said: "if everyone shops like they normally do, we won't have to face the prospect of empty shelves."
jcg/rs (dpa AFP)