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COVID-19

Friday Round-up (6/19/20): Food Insecurity on the Rise, Despite Agri-Food Resilience


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.

This week the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released the Food Outlook report. This 2020-2021 report forecasts production and market trends of popular trading commodities including grains, meat, and dairy, among others.

Boubaker Ben-Belhassen, Director of the FAO Trade and Markets Division, states that “The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt – at varying degrees – across all food sectors assessed by FAO. Whilst COVID-19 has posed a serious threat to food security, overall, our analysis shows that from the global perspective, agricultural commodity markets are proving to be more resilient to the pandemic than many other sectors. That said, owing to the size of the challenge and the enormous uncertainties associated with it, the international community must remain vigilant and ready to react, if and when necessary.” 

Even though the future of COVID-19 remains uncertain, the report states that the agri-food sector is likely to show more resilience while navigating the pandemic than other sectors. However, the industry will continue to face significant challenges in securing food reliability. In the U.S. alone, millions of people have struggled to access groceries prior to 2020—the pandemic has made this even more difficult. With limited public transportation, high unemployment rates and increased costs in some product categories, many are experiencing greater barriers to reliable and affordable food shopping than ever before.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of groceries grew 2.6% in April, the biggest month-to-month increase since 1974. For many, this increase, combined with compounding economic stressors, greatly reduces access to food. According to CNN, people living in “low income areas and low access” areas—defined as urban areas in which a significant portion of the population lives more than a mile from a supermarket or rural areas where a significant portion of the population lives more than 10 miles from a supermarket—have been particularly vulnerable to food insecurity since the COVID-19 crisis started.  Since the pandemic, the article states that, “In Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky, the number of residents living in food insecure areas has spiked 43%, 36% and 118% respectively.”

Consumers also remain concerned about the potential health risks of interacting with others, which can further complicate easy access to food. According to the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) 2020 Food & Health Survey, COVID-19 was the top food safety issue for 24% of Americans when it came to food handling and preparation. According to the study, “Nearly half (49%) of consumers are at least somewhat concerned about the safety of food that was prepared outside their homes, such as takeout or delivery. A similar number (46%) are concerned when they eat outside the home, such as in restaurants. Trailing behind are those who are concerned about food safety when shopping for groceries online (42%), shopping for groceries in-store (36%) and preparing meals at home (30%).” Food businesses can continue to provide clear communication about hours of operation, policies around purchasing quotas, as well as efforts to sanitize facilities and protect consumers to facilitate easier shopping experiences for those who may not have flexibility in when or where they are purchasing food.

If you are interested in supporting communities affected by food insecurity, consider donating to your local food bank. 

Resources

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

In preparation for future risk and disruption, now is the time for retail grocers to develop and prime strong, comprehensive recall and withdrawal strategies. Join FoodLogiQ for a live demo on Wednesday, June 24th at 3:30 p.m. to discuss strategies retail grocers can use for successful product recall, withdrawal and hold execution, no matter the location. Register today.

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Posted by Julie Brown on Jun 19, 2020 5:59:41 PM

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