Fact check: Photos of bare, fully stocked grocery store shelves shared online to support false claim

Asia's Tech News Daily

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. 

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Meanwhile, some social media users have used an outdated image captured outside of the U.S., asserting that the scenes depict current situations at grocery stores.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.

Fact check: Viral image does not show gas prices the day Biden took office

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’

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app, or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

In an aerial view, container ships (Top R) are anchored by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles as they wait to offload on Sept. 20, 2021 near Los Angeles. Amid a record-high demand for imported goods and a shortage of shipping containers and truckers, the twin ports are currently seeing unprecedented congestion. On Sept. 17, there were a record total of 147 ships, 95 of which were container ships, in the twin ports, which move about 40 percent of all cargo containers entering the U.S. Cargo containers wait to be transported after being offloaded at the Port of Los Angeles, Oct 16, 2021 in San Pedro, Calif. Supply chain issues have caused shortages of goods throughout the country with cargo ships waiting off shore in Southern California to offload. Cargo containers are offloaded from a ship in the Port of Long Beach on Oct. 16, 2021. Trucks line up to enter one of the piers at the Port of Los Angeles on Oct 16, 2021. Empty shelves are seen at an IKEA store on Oct. 15, 2021 in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn borough in New York City. Executives at IKEA have warned of supply chain disruption that could last into next year leaving some stores without certain items. Stores in North America are expected to be hardest hit by product shortages first and then followed by stores in Europe. A truck drives past cargo containers stacked at the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest container port, on Oct. 15, 2021 in San Pedro, Calif. As surging inflation and supply chain disruptions are disrupting global economic recovery, the Washington-based IMF has projected that global gross domestic product will grow by 5.9% this year — a 0.1 percentage point lower than its July estimate. The Port of Los Angeles is transitioning to 24/7 operations amid efforts to ease supply backlogs. Trucks move past cargo containers at a Bayonne port on October 15, 2021 in Bayonne, N.J. In an aerial view, trailers sit idle at a Virginia Inland Port facility Oct. 14, 2021 in Front Royal, Va. A lack of certified commercial drivers has added to the disruptions in the economic supply chain as the United States tries to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. Shipping containers are stacked on a dock at the Port of Oakland on Oct. 14, 2021 in California. Disruptions to the global supply chain are continuing with extreme port congestion, a lack of truck drivers and a microchip shortage. A cargo ship passes below the Francis Scott Key Bridge while leaving the Port of Baltimore Oct. 14, 2021, in Baltimore, Md. Closed factories, clogged ports, no truck drivers — up and down the global supply chain there are problems, raising concerns that it could disrupt the global economic recovery. Containers are unloaded from ships at the Port of Los Angeles, in Los Angeles, California, Oct. 14, 2021. The Port of Los Angeles and its longshoreman union will provide 24-hour service to alleviate backlogs that have exacerbated global supply chain problems, the White House said Oct. 13, 2021. Semi-trailer trucks move along Lincoln Highway while using the indirect interchange from Interstates 70, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and U.S. Route 30 on Oct. 14, 2021 in Breezewood, Pa. A lack of certified commercial drivers has added to the disruptions in the economic supply chain as the United States tries to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. In an aerial view, trucks carrying shipping containers line up as they prepare to be offloaded onto a container ship at the Port of Oakland on Oct. 14, 2021. Trucks hauling shipping containers leave the EverPort terminal at the Port of Oakland on Oct. 14, 2021. Cargo is removed from an international flight at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 11, 2021. U.S. wholesale prices jumped 8.6 percent in the 12 months ended in September, the biggest increase in over a decade, according to US Labor Department data released on Oct. 14, 2021. It was the sixth consecutive record for the annual measure, which has tracked rising prices for firms as they deal with global supply chain bottlenecks and worker shortages amid the sudden rebound in demand as economies reopen from the Covid-19 pandemic. Cargo is removed from an international flight at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 11, 2021. Containers are loaded onto trucks at the Port of Los Angeles, Oct. 14, 2021. A train load of containers heads to the Port of Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 13, 2021. The supply chain squeeze has caused climbing prices and delays in delivery that are threatening the U.S. economy and holiday shopping. A surfer waits for waves at Huntington Beach, Calif. on Sept. 25, 2021 as container ships wait offshore. A record number of cargo ships have been stuck waiting outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to have cargo unloaded, amid backups in America’s two busiest ports. A cargo ship moves under the Bayonne Bridge as it heads out to the ocean on Oct. 06, 2021 in Bayonne, N.J. A cargo ship filled with containers moves through New York Harbor as it heads out to the Atlantic ocean seen from the Staten Island ferry on Oct. 12, 2021 in New York City.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Photos of bare, fully stocked grocery store shelves shared online to support false claim

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