Food safety, traceability and sustainability blog



Friday Round-up (4/3/20): Rising Unemployment, the CARES Act and more COVID-19 Updates

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 U.S. has benefited from nearly a decade of employment gains following the historic financial crisis of 2008. However, unemployment numbers reported at the end of March 2020 ended this trend, painting a worrisome picture for the workers and industries most acutely impacted by the unfolding coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic; According to an update from NPR, the U.S. unemployment rate now stands at 4.4%, with 701,000 jobs lost in March alone - and economists are warning that this may only be the beginning. The restaurant industry in particular continues to feel the full force of economic turns taking place as a result of the coronavirus health crisis.

Service workers and businesses can now seek relief from the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed last week. Unfortunately, for many, this aid may not be sufficient for addressing the longer term consequences of the crisis. In a recent article, the National Restaurant Association’s EVP for Public Affairs Sean Kennedy spoke to this issue, saying, “We know that in the first three weeks of March, more than three million restaurant workers were laid off, and we believe that number could go as high as seven million people if the shutdown goes on for three months. We hope that provisions of the CARES Act will begin to help restaurants to bring their workers back on payroll and to keep the lights on. Even with this help the industry will struggle to survive. We are talking with Congress and the Administration about what restaurants will need in the long-term, including additional access to loans, tax stimulus measures and an intervention on Business Interruption Insurance claims denials.” Learn more about applying for aid from the CARES Act here.

While the outlook for many businesses remains uncertain, the resilience of the food industry and supply chain have also been on full display. Restaurants and distributors are adopting new business models overnight to reroute product, and reports are surfacing of retailers that are hiring furloughed service workers, facilitating large takeout orders and building deeper partnerships with restaurants in the face of the crisis. Many areas of the industry are experiencing an upswing in demand, with CPGs projected to see up to a 30% increase in sales between March and May this year. Consumer purchasing behavior has been greatly impacted by virus suppression efforts, resulting in higher demand for packaged goods and grocery delivery. Some small farm operations have also been able to sell out CSA programs in lieu of dwindling restaurant wholesale buyers.  

An Update from the FDA

FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas released a statement to cover pressing industry topics related to COVID-19. Yiannas assured the public that there is still no evidence that COVID-19 is transmissible via food and joined a chorus of industry leadership seeking to temper supply concerns. The food supply chain remains fundamentally intact with no critical disruptions within the country. Yiannas also indicated that some facility inspections have been postponed to mitigate risks around human-to-human coronavirus transmission. No new rules related specifically to COVID-19 have been announced by the FDA. However, under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), food facilities are already required to have food safety plans to mitigate health risks for employees. Yiannas issued a reminder that FSMA rules mandate sanitization and appropriate hand washing procedures.

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Please view FoodLogiQ's COVID-19 Food Industry Resource Center for industry-specific updates, resources and information.

If your business is in need of operational guidance for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, please join us for our upcoming webinar on how our clients are responding to this crisis; Registration for the April 16th webinar, 7 Ways FoodLogiQ Customers are Minimizing Risk During COVID-19, is now open.

Posted by Anna Ploegh on Apr 3, 2020 5:53:47 PM