Coronavirus – Is it Causing Food Shortages in the Global Supply Chain?
With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States approaching nearly half a million, the focus of the COVID-19 pandemic has begun to shift towards the unprecedented economic impact. Moving forward, we are all, including businesses wading through rough and murky water, and are being required to run before we can even walk.
Many businesses, from small to large, are taking it upon themselves to look after their employees and customers all while maintaining their operations that power the ship. A difficult task to navigate in a stable economy, and a near impossible one during a global pandemic.
Thankfully, countless businesses are rising to the occasion by adapting to a remote workforce. Through the ups and downs, there is a key factor that may just be the driving force we all need, that is, a hopeful and optimistic attitude. With the coronavirus pandemic carrying on for what seems to be indefinitely, how can businesses expect the disease to affect their supply chain? And what can they do to safeguard it throughout this historic time?
The Broken Link In The Food Chain
Stockpiling food and resources seem to be a common tactic for countries scrambling to get ahead of the pandemic. But how effective really is this strategy? And, what are the long-term implications of it?
Every day, or even every hour, news channels are putting out new headlines. The travel restrictions that nearly every state, and many countries, have implemented have caused the food supply chain to come to a crashing halt.
At the state level, many industries are being drawn to a halt and commerce has been dwindling. However, on the global level, travel restrictions and a limitation on a country’s exports have the potential for a much larger impact. With the pandemic becoming more and more politically charged, world leaders are urging their counter parts not to do so, and rather work in unison to get through the pandemic.
As the pandemic carries on, will it cause states and countries to begin hoarding resources, in turn disrupting the global food supply chain and causing prices to spike?
Farmers: The Unsung Heroes
Some farmers throughout the country are not letting the pandemic disrupt the food supply chain that easily and are working tirelessly to bridge the gap. The unfortunate truth is that many restaurants, schools, and other businesses that bought directly from a farm have come to a stop. Fortunately enough, farmers are collaborating amongst each other and with other organizations to supply areas in need in a seamless manner.
Under normal circumstances, farmers would have an entire year to determine the logistics of what they produce. However, we clearly are not operating under normal circumstances. While the rest of the world has slowed down, farmers are being forced to speed up, having to determine how much food they should produce and where to send it to in a matter of weeks. The rush is not simply because the demand is so high, it’s actually to keep the farms open and prevent them from wasting food.
Some farmers have had to change their business model entirely so that they can weather the storm. Having to quickly switch from supplying restaurants, businesses, and schools to selling directly to customers has been a tricky feat. They’re implementing creative solutions to get their products to customers, such as offering no-touch drop-offs or allowing for people to pick up their goods. The new model for many farmers is to sell boxes of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other goods directly to consumers.
Unfortunately there are a large number of farmers who have been unable to pivot in such a way. With their traditional consumers being unable to buy their products, the food often either gets donated or thrown away. Sadly food banks can only take so much food, leaving more food to be thrown away. Farmers are caught between a rock and a hard place, as they struggle to determine their demand what to prepare for.
Farmers may feel hopeful however knowing that people are beginning to question where their food is coming from, and how many people come in contact with it before it lands on their dish. For a country that is used to living in surplus, such a shock to the system has surely caused consumers to think twice about the global players that have an impact on what ends up in their refrigerator.
This concern is actually what inspired our parent company, InViCo Worldwide, to enter the food and beverage industry. The lack of innovative food and beverage ingredients that operate on a transparent supply chain and are ethically sourced just wasn’t what it should be. With that in mind, we found just a way to do so by working with people, farmers, and businesses who uphold our same values.
The Impact of Hoarding Supplies
As medical experts across the world attempt to get a grip on the spread of the coronavirus, some world leaders have begun to politicize the pandemic by stockpiling their resources. What does hoarding food, along with other resources, mean for the supply chain?
Basically, the short-term effects will include a major spike in demand for nearly everyone. We’ll also see shelves throughout grocery stores become less stocked and possibly even empty.
These effects are more apparent in smaller stores who do not have a wide range of suppliers and vast inventory. The uncertainty of if and when certain goods will be supplied causes small businesses to bear the burden of stockpiling even more.
Larger stores may be able to withstand the storm due to the amount of suppliers they can buy from, and they may even be able to capitalize on the current situation as consumers become more desperate for certain goods.
As for the everyday person, does it make sense to stockpile? No one can say for sure. It’s uncertain when the pandemic will come to an end, sending most consumers into a panic buying frenzy. Perhaps it’d be best to shop as we normally would. As resources wear thin, everyone should be courteous of
Tackling The Supply Chain
As we move forward throughout the pandemic, it is necessary for us to take control of the global food supply chain. Institutions are moving quickly to adapt to the ever changing situation.
You’ll be happy to hear that there are already rules and regulations in place to help prevent food from becoming contaminated from sickly workers. The CARES Act, has been passed by the United States government so that people and businesses may have emergency assistance and health care. What this Act also does is provide funding to the Food and Drug Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which all have been extremely overworked throughout the pandemic.
As individuals, we hope that more action will be taken by government institutions so that we may soon return to a normal life. However, you don’t need to feel completely helpless because there are ways you can help.
If you live in a rural area, you may have the opportunity to help our farmers by buying their goods directly from them, as many of them are attempting to switch to a direct-to-consumer business model now. Don’t live in a rural area close to a local farmer? Some are offering to ship their goods across the state, or even across the country if possible. Always remember, any show of support helps everyone get through this together.
Whether you do live near a rural area or not, there are some general guidelines you can follow to help flatten the curve. The best way to stay safe is to practice proper hygiene. You should regularly wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Any surfaces such as countertops or door handles should be cleaned and disinfected frequently. When cooking or prepping food, make sure to wash your vegetables with water as well as to cook your food thoroughly (since heat kills viruses).
The pace at which the pandemic has caused a stir of emotions amongst the entire world. Alas throughout this virus the only type of certainty we have is that of uncertainty. We cannot tell what will happen tomorrow, so we can only hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Our food industry continues to take action to keep up with the ever-evolving pandemic, and it’s imperative to do so. Our global food supply is currently being threatened, but to keep an already nervous population at bay we must work tirelessly to keep food on our shelves and out of the garbage.