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Challenges to the food supply chain

The US food supply chain continues to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Former U.S. Chief Ag Negotiator Darci Vetter says there is plenty of food, but there are logistical challenges including the transportation of food products.

“As economies began to lock down or to put restrictions on the movement of people, so to did that restrict movements of food,” she says.

She says labor shortages, health of workers, and consumer income have also impacted the food supply chain.

“We also have a real crisis of labor– one is on the production side but the other bottle neck is the health of labor in places like our meat packing plants,” she says. “The last issue that I wanted to raise is the massive loss of income in the United States and globally. We’ve seen 30 million people file for unemployment who are concerned about being able to afford their next meal.”

Shefali Kapadia, senior editor for Supply Chain Dive, says other challenges were the shift in the type of demand.

“For example, the school systems are one of the largest buyers of dairy in the country and when those closed down there was this issue of what we do with the current dairy supply,” she says. “It’s not as simple as saying we’ll take the milk and cheese and send it to the grocery store because that requires a tremendous amount of retooling everything from the packaging to the label and transportation to get it there.”

She says investments would be needed to meet these changes in demand.

These comments were made during a National Press Foundation webinar today.

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