COVID Virus Shut Down Food Service Supply Chain

Some Crops for Supply Chain Could Not Find Home

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network of the West

Farmers of many crops have been left with nowhere to go with harvests, even as grocery stores struggle to keep shelves stocked. This is mostly due to the fact that many agricultural supply chains are built for food service. However, there are other factors at play here as well, says Dr. Ellen Bruno, Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Ag and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley.

“People have also changed their buying patterns and what they’re buying as well. For example, you might want to go to the grocery store less frequently because of everything going on and therefore you might try to buy more shelf-stable foods so you don’t have to go as frequently,” said Bruno

Buying more shelf-stable foods often means more foods that have been processed. These processors were running efficiently before so they didn’t have extra capacity to adapt to the shock in demand. Also, everywhere in the supply chain is dealing with the impact of the virus on employees.

“And then finally on the supply side, there’s the impact of the virus itself affecting farmworkers and food processing and transport workers. And trying to manage the virus and how their potential impacts of the virus or realize the impacts of the virus on farm labor and what that, the implications of that,” explained Bruno.

Dr. Bruno, along with colleagues Daniel Sumner and Richard Sexton, released an article last month detailing the ways in which coronavirus is impacting food supply chains. She also plans to do more research into the long term impacts of what we are currently experiencing.