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How is COVID-19 Affecting Food Supply

Interra International | Food Supply Issues

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread around the globe, there are concerns about its affect on food production, food supply, and availability. The pandemic has affected nearly everyone, some more profoundly than others. It has changed many aspects of our lives from work and school to how we behave in public.

Masks have become the new norm and requirement when out in public. However, since it is far too difficult to eat a meal with a mask on, restaurants have closed or moved to a curb-side pickup model, leaving more food purchasing to be done directly by the consumer. No, we’re not eating less, we’re just not dining socially anymore.

If we look at food supplies (especially in the US), we can see that we have more than adequate amounts of meat, eggs, and dairy products to meet demand. In fact, some of our domestic production is forecast higher for 2020 as compared with last year. However, recent virus outbreaks have led to the closure of a number of US meat processing plants, causing them to temporarily suspend operations. Hit especially hard are the US pork processing plants, with three very large plants closing their doors due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Local food supply has not yet been affected, but the increased closures over the past few weeks could lead to less selection in the grocery stores and future shortages until facilities are back up and running.

On a positive note, some plants are beginning to reopen with limited operations. Interra International will continue to monitor the situation and report on the status of closures as well as their impact on meat supply.

While the supply chain continues to function, we did have some minor disruptions early on with panicked buying of essentials, leaving supermarket shelves bare and consumers quite concerned. As we continue through the shelter-in-place situation, supplies are returning, shelves re-stocked, with general availability of most products.

The consumers rush did cause some prices to spike due to demand, but those are correcting as the crisis continues and retailers restock their shelves. It is expected that price increases in items like meat, dairy, and milk will stabilize over time and are already showing signs of improvement

There are some signs that the spread of the virus is beginning to slow and some communities are gently lifting some of the stringent distancing safeguards. No one really knows how long this pandemic will last, but we do have a strong and resilient agricultural and food sector.

Our gratitude and thanks to the farmers, food producers, and distributors that continue to keep up the supply of safe, healthy food for the future.

Interra International – your global trade partner. Visit our website or call our professional staff today for more information or assistance with food trade needs or concerns.

Reference: USDA – U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 16, 2020. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2020/04/16/will-covid-19-threaten-availability-and-affordability-our-food

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