What is wrong with this picture?

by Peter Hamilton

In America we have witnessed the phenomenon of food being left to waste, as livestock are euthanized en mass, ripe produce destroyed, and fresh milk is poured down drains.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread closures of businesses including restaurants, hotels and education systems, keeping people at home and away from one another and causing an economic crisis that has not been seen since 2008-2009.

These closures have forced food producers whose goods would normally be sold to industry distributors, hoteliers and school systems to turn to the only option available to them at this time, and that is to destroy what they have produced.

At the same time, joblessness is skyrocketing, throwing tens of millions of people into economic uncertainty and causing sprawling lines at food banks as people desperately seek their next meal.

Now-a-days the movement of goods along the supply chain is based on a just-in-time principle. Which means even minor disruptions can have significant consequences. Empty grocery stores are not an issue of supply but more an issue with demand.

For instance, although there is an abundant supply of food available at the beginning of the supply chain, demand during these covid-19 times has shifted from food service to retail as Americans for example cook nearly all their meals at home, causing widespread disruptions in the food service supply chain.

Currently the food supply chain cannot pivot quickly and change the purchase of bulk agricultural food products from food service buyers to other types of buyers such as food processors who supply retail packs to grocery stores. Stakeholders need to collaboratively brainstorm or create “out of the box” thinking to come up with innovative solutions on how “food buyers” can pivot and respond in times of crisis.

This further emphasizes the need for a concerted collaborative effort across many disciplines if we want to tangibly reduce food waste, while at the same time provide caring sustenance to our fellow man who maybe less fortunate than ourselves.

However there are other factors contributing to food loss along the supply chain. These include lack of awareness of the issue and of possible solutions, inadequate supply chain infrastructure, supply chain efficiency efforts that do not focus sufficiently on food loss and waste, and insufficient regulations.

Let me talk about each of these factors in more detail in future coming blogs.

See you next time and stay safe and healthy.

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