While the coronavirus has slowed business activity — in many cases, to a halt — the food supply chain has been working overtime to get food to grocery stores as demand is clearing shelves.
Agriculture producers and processing plants are putting in extra hours to get food to market, according to the Wall Street Journal, which notes these suppliers are making drastic modifications to how food is prepared and packaged to reduce bulk orders to restaurants closed by the virus and increase the supply of smaller consumer-sized retail products to grocery stores that are overwhelmed with demand.
Consumers, for their part, have been buying up everything in sight at retail stores and stocking up for government-mandated stay-at-home orders. Washington’s statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order was implemented March 23.
But just because the shelves are clear, that doesn’t mean there’s a food shortage. Cold storage stocks of chicken, cheese and raspberries are sitting at record levels, and frozen pork is up more than 10 percent compared to last year.
“If you see depleted rice shelves in your local grocery store, it is not a supply problem; it is a signifier of changing logistics in the retail market,” USA Rice President Betsy Ward told Politico.
Cold storage facilities across the country have been forced to step up and do their part to keep grocery retailers supplied, according to multiple sources. Cold storage warehouses are seeing a major increase in volume, facilities in Michigan and New York are hiring thousands of workers and all climate-controlled facilities, including Washington Cold Storage, are putting in extra effort to keep the food supply chain humming along.