More Thoughts on Supply Chains

More Thoughts on Supply Chains

I wrote last week about one of my favorite Indian restaurants losing access to key ingredients because their supply chain had broken down with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As I continue to follow updates on supply chain impacts here at home and across the Globe, it’s clear there is a growing mismatch in the food being grown/raised (meat, produce, dairy, etc.) at this moment and where demand is coming from. Americans still spend over half their food budget dining out at restaurants. With many restaurants shut down or running only delivery/take-out, the food demand has dropped off a cliff. Farmers can’t just shift from selling their products to retail from restaurants; it’s a sluggish and tedious recalibration that often involves new suppliers, changes in Federal/State regulations and modifications to the production process.

As part of this massive slowdown in restaurant purchasing and gradual shift to retail, there is a massive amount of food waste that must be absorbed – think homeless shelters, food banks, etc. – versus being composted, or worse, thrown away. I found the article, “Food goes to waste amid coronavirus crisis” by Politico, particularly relevant to the changes happening in the supply chain. What the article doesn’t really touch on, however, is will many of these farmers and suppliers survive the coronavirus crisis. And if they do, how quickly can they ramp back up to meet the needs of the eventual restaurant rebound that takes place. More to come.

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