Friday Round-up (3/20/20): COVID-19 Impacts on the Food Industry
Every week FoodLogiQ will be aggregating the latest updates and resources for food businesses navigating the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Learn how the industry is adapting to protect and feed consumers while building resilience in the face of global crisis.
The United States population is bracing for escalated virus suppression mandates as Illinois and California Governors order statewide lockdowns, and New York continues to put stronger emergency measures in place. Italy announced today a record death toll of 627, adding to growing numbers across the globe. To date, it is reported that more than 270,000 people have become ill, and as of Friday (3/20), at least 11,000 have died worldwide.
In the wake of rapid changes to public behavior and safety protocols, food businesses have been working overtime to meet demand, and find new ways to reach consumers in a compliant and safe manner. The National Restaurant Association has indicated that the epidemic will cost restaurants $225 Billion in the short term alone. United States policy around work visas and labor shortages are surfacing as areas where the industry may need to prepare for additional disruption in the coming months.
Read some of the latest:
- H-2A labor concerns rise for spring harvest
Concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in a hold on H-2A visa interviews for new applicants in Mexico. The produce industry remains highly dependent on this workforce and is bracing for potential labor shortages.
- Grocery stores are hiring to cope with demand during coronavirus: vacancies at Amazon, Albersons, Kroger
Many major retailers have issued a call-to-arms in response to growing demand throughout the sector. Vacancies have been reported in retail, pharmacy, delivery, within the supply chain, as well as corporate positions.
- Grocery store employees are the heroes we need right now
Despite deep unrest felt across the country, grocery store brands and workers have offered a lifeline for those looking to prepare for change. Grocery store workers are on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis, exposing themselves to greater risk in order to ensure the public can eat.
- FreshDirect worker who tested positive for COVID-19 not involved in food prep or delivery
As the case number continues to rise, food businesses are exercising increased caution and communication around employee exposure. The public is paying close attention to which businesses are being transparent, in addition to minimizing risk to the end consumer and other workers.
- A Wholesale Grocery Will Deliver Directly to the Public
Baldor Specialty Foods is offering home delivery to consumers for the first time ever, in addition to increasing their service area. Businesses across the industry are exercising rapid adaptability to address shifting needs.
- Coronavirus Prompts Whole Foods, Safeway And Other Grocery Stores To Reserve Shopping Times For Vulnerable Customers
Given the unevenly distributed risks associated with the novel coronavirus, grocers are offering dedicated access to the most vulnerable shoppers during early hours of operation. This ensures the elderly and immunocompromised can benefit from enhanced opening cleaning procedures.
- Coronavirus-Era Food Supply: America Has a Lot. Moving It Is Tricky.
Many within the industry have worked hard to communicate the stability of the food supply chain to consumers engaging in panic-shopping. However, with people changing when, where, and how they eat overnight, supply chain management needs to be more flexible than ever.
- Ports of entry seeing more attempts to bring food into U.S.
Travelers entering the U.S. have responded to news of empty grocery shelves by attempting to bring food across borders. This has added strain and delays to an already burdened travel industry managing risks and rapid policy changes.
- Partnership for Food Safety Education: Coronavirus Resource Page
- FDA: Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- FDA: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Food Safety Frequently Asked Questions
- IFMA Webinar: Live Conversation: COVID-19 & Healthcare Foodservice Operators
- The CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
- National Restaurant Association: Coronavirus Information and Resources