Coronavirus breaking conveyor belt of items

COVID-19 Impacts Food and Supplements Supply Chains

Denis Storey
February 5, 2020

Automate Your Supply Chain: Does your food or supplement business struggle to find and manage high-quality suppliers, stay on top of regulatory requirements, or achieve supply chain transparency? TraceGains can help.

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According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the worlds food systems and disrupts regional agricultural trade and value chains. The FAO has warned that food shortages are a real risk in the coming months.

As the pandemic continues, unabated, supplements, and food manufacturers have been working overtime to continue to meet consumer demand.

U.S. Supply Chain Upended

Dana Gunders, Executive Director of ReFED, a nonprofit helping reduce U.S. food waste, during a recent Waste 360 webinar, said, Typically, there are distinct supply chains for each food service industry – restaurants, hotels, schools, university campuses, corporate campuses – but when those businesses closed, those supply chains also closed. So, you have farmers, distributors, and processors looking for new markets. 

Meanwhile, the grocery sector is increasing its market share. So all these organizations are trying to get into retail, but it's not that easy,Gunders added. "Some are successful, but many are still looking for a market, or are going direct to consumer, or are tilling fields over.

Global Food Supply Chain Price Surge Threat

With the continuing globalization of the supply chain, challenges extend well beyond U.S. borders.

According to a recent article on the World Economic Forum website, there were signs that global food prices could soon surge even before the pandemic. Extreme weather events have become more common, with devastating effects: 

  • African swine fever wiped out over one-quarter of the world's pig population last year, causing food prices in China to increase by 15% to 22% year-over-year so far in 2020.

  • And, more recently, the worst locust blight in 70 years has destroyed crops in East Africa. In Kenya, the price of maize, a staple food, has risen by more than 60% since 2019.

COVID-19 is amplifying the risk of a worldwide food-price spike, which would trigger crises in many developing countries. 

FDA Continues Halt on Routine Inspections

According to the FDA website, there remains no evidence that food or food packaging impacts the transmission of COVID-19. The FDA has temporarily postponed physical inspections of foreign-produced FDA-regulated products but is employing other tools, such as portable screening devices, risk ranking tools, database trend analysis applications, and others.

In such a challenging environment, supply chain leaders must take steps now to avoid disruption in the production of food and dietary supplements. TraceGains can help automate and streamline regulatory document management, and achieve supply chain transparency, request a demo to learn more.