March 19: Today’s Snapshot of Stories Impacting the Food Industry
Dear Mushroom growers, shippers, importers, marketers and allied colleagues:
Below is today’s round-up of news stories and other items outlining how COVID-19 is impacting the food industry. As a reminder, the goal of sharing this regular cadence of news insights is to keep the industry better informed as we continuously update our strategies. I welcome any feedback and please feel free throughout the day to send me any stories to consider for the next digest.
- C-19 Leads to Strong Produce Sales
The Produce News spoke with grocer wholesalers nationwide to find leaders reporting brisk sales of fruits and vegetables. “At the stores, people are buying everything in sight. I don’t know what they are doing once they fill their refrigerators, but they are still buying,” reports a long time buyer. Another seller to retail noted he is “doing twice the normal sales on a daily basis. I do not know if and when it’s going to slow down. I’ve been saying it’s like Thanksgiving every day,” he said referring to the huge bump in produce sales that typically occur leading up to that national food-focused holiday. Conclusion: This is further evidence that the uptick in grocery sales – now including produce – only strengthens our recommendation to focus messaging on at-homecooking. https://www.theproducenews.com/news-dep-menu/28750-cv-19-other-factors-lead-to-strong-produce-sales
- It’s Good to Share Your C-19 Strategy
The Produce News also yesterday featured a round-up of various producers sharing their strategies to meet growing demand. “The Idaho Potato Commission is working on tools to help retailers optimize sales during this tight supply year by merchandising optimally.” “Tomra Food… in preparation for potential disruption to its supply chain… has identified and increased stocking of critical components.” Conclusion: It is smart and helpful for a producer to share their production and supply strategy in the wake of C-19, so long as it is in service to the industry. https://www.theproducenews.com/news-dep-menu/28744-how-the-produce-industry-is-battling-covid-19
- Ways in Which the Food Supply Chain May Be Disrupted
Earlier this week, food and grocer associations assured the government and public the food supply chain is safe and strong. However, NPR yesterday identified potential disruptions. Dan Charles has an extensive look at: https://www.npr.org/2020/03/18/816644358/covid-19-threatens-food-supply-chain-as-farms-worry-about-workers-falling-ill. He notes that H-2A visa applications in Mexico are running smoothly and workers would be exempt from border closings, but what if the workers begin to fall ill? Can they receive sick pay, and would their fellow workers need to go into quarantine? The story also features comments from a wholesaler making hard pivots from selling into foodservice to groceries, saying it is manageable but could depress prices. Similarly, Agri-Talk yesterday featured comments from the president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives noting concerns for the spread of the virus disrupting delivery of feed, fuel and fertilizer as planting season begins. Conclusion: While the food supply is safe and the supply chain is intact, hotspots could cause disruptions. Growers will need contingencies should their workers need to self isolate.
- National Restaurant Association Proposes Bailout Plan
The National Restaurant Association is urging politicians to take critical steps to support America’s restaurant industry and the 15.6 million workers they employ. In the coming days, the Association will submit additional recommendations to address the challenges confronting our restaurant owners and operators as this situation rapidly unfolds. This video from Foodable outlines the impact of closures in the US by mid-April and notes NRA’s desire to get in front of impact.
- Virtual Tours and Live Streaming Create Opportunities for Deeper Connection
A movement is quickly evolving: individuals and organizations are live streaming as a way to deepen connectivity during this period of social distancing – from rock stars offering live-at-home free concerts to museums providing virtual tours. Agriculture producers also are leveraging these technologies. Agri-Marketing reports that Virtual Farm Tours, produced by American Dairy Association North East (ADANE), are available for children in grades Pre K-12 and use video technology to connect children to dairy farms and the farmers who own and operate them. Look for this tactic to grow in food production. https://www.agrimarketing.com/s/129413