Now’s a great time to fill your pantries and stock up on essentials, but there’s no need to hoard products or panic about food during this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, says Andy Harig, vice president of tax, trade sustainability and policy development for the Food Industry Association (FMI).
“The products are there; people aren't going to go hungry. There's plenty of food,” Harig says.
But these are unique times for retailers, he admits. With customers stocking up all at once, it’s been hugely challenging.
“We're seeing more demand and more volume going out the doors then we would on a normal basis,” Harig says. “But the supply is there.”
Retailers are working through the logistics of getting product from distribution centers to the stores and from manufacturers to the distribution centers.
For example, on a typical day, a large store may get a truckload of supply a day. Now they're moving so much volume that they’re getting two or three truckloads a day to unload and process, he explains. Current logistics are adding stress to the supply chain.
Grocery stores remain a constant
FMI present and CEO Leslie Sarasin said the food industry is working nonstop to replenish and restock shelves while ensuring the cleanliness of stores and the safety of its associates in the Voice of the Food Industry Blog on Wednesday.
“In the midst of keeping things moving, the needs of all our customers and partners – including WIC and SNAP shoppers and the food banks we support – remain top-of-mind,” she wrote.
The food industry has dealt with public health crises before, though not quite on this scale, Harig adds.
“We are extraordinarily resilient in this industry,” he says. “We deal with natural disasters, blizzards, hurricanes, etc., where it’s vital that the stores stay open or that they reopen as quickly as possible.”
This experience will help food retailers weather this pandemic and at the same time, Harig believes it will result in work opportunities for those who may be laid off or without a job due to COVID-19 pressure on the economy.
“A bunch of companies are announcing they're hiring. As other industries are being idled, our industry is going to be creating jobs and really putting people to work. And that supply chain is going to stay intact,” he says. “We feel really confident in our ability to make sure that people will get what they need and get what they want.”
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