Global Food Supply Chain and COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Sustainability

COVID-19 caused global food supply chain disruptions and hampered economy and food security

Food Supply Chain

Global food supply chain and COVID-19 pandemic impact on sustainability is topic of concern in this pandemic era . Food supply chain involves set of operations and mechanisms to ensure food supply from farm/production sites to intended consumers.

We consume foods to get vital nutrients for optimal health and healthy aging. Moreover, foods also help to satisfy our caloric needs and body requirements of essential nutrients for proper functioning of body.

Hence, it is the right of every human being to have access to safe, wholesome and nutritious foods.

Food Supply Chain Disruptions

The COVID-19 pandemic exerted the significant impact on global food supply chain in almost all regions like Unites States, Europe, Asia-Pacific and rest of world. Now questions arises that is food supply chain at risk globally? World Bank also have good read on impact of COVID-19 on food security.

COVID-19 affected people globally and number of cases are increasing.
In the wake of 2020, world has seen an outbreak and massive spread of viral flu-like infection by Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) (Source: Pixabay)

Developing countries are still facing verge of rise in reported cases of COVID-19 infections and hence imposing rigorous lockdown or smart lockdown strategies which affect all facets of economy.

The impact is widespread and encompasses supply chain disruptions leading to high food prices and economic crunch for millions of employees.

Across the globe, as indicated by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Asia-Pacific, North America and South America are most affected regions. This is because of highest number of reported cases in countries like Italy, Unites States, Spain, Germany, France, China, Japan, Brazil, South Korea and India.

In the wake of 2020, world has seen an outbreak and massive spread of viral flu-like infection by Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) from China’s Wuhan to 215 countries around the world.

As of September 20 according to World meter, 2020, the total number of reported COVID-19 cases were 30,984,020 and total deaths of 961,400.

COVID-19 impacted global economy. Global food supply chain and COVID-19 impact is matter of concern.
Unites States, Europe, Asia-Pacific and rest of world are facing high COVID-19 cases (Source: World Health Organization)

FutureBridge has extensive review of insights about effects of COVID-19 on global food supply chains and its disruptions. Read insights here.

COVID-19 Impact on World GDP Growth

COVID-19 has impacted various business sectors and this impact varies because of variations in supply and demand patterns of each business sector.

The food industry already witnessed slower growth rate in 2019, therefore, the Agriculture and Food Supply Chain sectors was likely to experience the biggest downturn due to COVID-19.

Many affected countries are still struggling to counter the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on economy to avoid dramatic decline in economic activities.

Many affected countries are still struggling to counter the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on economy.
COVID-19 hampered global economy and food security (Source: Pixabay)

This pandemic has seriously affected the global economy GDP by hitting food manufacturing and services sectors and required labor force.

Pandemic caused fall of growth rate of global GDP from 3.3 % to 2.8%.

Global pandemic scenario: If recovery measures were not taken appropriately, then the recession will come, and the growth in 2020 may fall at 0% or below.

Food Supply Chain Disruption due to COVID-19

Across the globe, food industry is facing differential impact of pandemic on each supply chain stage through affected workers working at various levels in industry (Production, Distribution, and Inventory Levels), such as farmers, producers, marketers, intended consumers.

Global Food Supply Chain and COVID-19 Pandemic Impact are related with each other
COVID-19 caused food supply chain disruptions (Source: FutureBridge Analysis)

The severity of impact increases from farm to fork level in supply chain management. Highest level of risk is present at manufacturing and Food Service Sectorial levels.

The risk factors of COVID-19 outbreak increase due to massive number of affected people who come into contact at agricultural farms, food and beverage production, processing units, distribution networks.

Product outputs also increase the food safety concerns and risk of spreading COVID-19 due to trade between various geographical regions. This risk of spreading COVID-19 has results in labor shortage.

As similar risk also exists for industry stakeholders due to coming into contact with public and potentially affected COVID-19 patients. Travel bans and strict lockdown are also contributing factors which has affected the availability of critical persons required for decision-making in industry.

The workforce shortage may have significant impact on business plans and industrial production of food and nutritional products.

Recovery Measures to Overcome Gaps in Food Supply Chain

Taking Right Measures on Food Safety

Because of raid COVID-19 spread, food industry has been experiencing new and uncertain scenarios. Therefore, food manufacturers should be prepared to take right measures to ensure food safety.

As COVID-19 has limited travel and hence manufacturers are facing increased economic pressure.

Food manufacturers must try to follow good manufacturing practices to ensure food safety and quality regarding key five elements, such as people, processes, products, premises and procedures.

Food manufacturers also have to follow risk-based food safety plans like HACCP.

Departmental Monitoring of Food Supply Chain

Such a system of food supply is needed which ensures to provide safe, wholesome and nutritious foods to massive number of people at their nearest points.

Governments should focus on establishing new department dedicated to ensure smooth operations in food supply chains.

Effective marketing and Supply Chain Mechanisms should be implemented globally in affected countries to keep the post-harvest losses at minimum and reduced supply chain issues.

Maintenance of Storage Facilities

Surplus food commodities need to be stored in proper storage facilities. Therefore, Agricultural departments in governmental sectors should focus on establishing new storage facilities and proper maintenance of existing storage areas.

Reshaping Supply Chain in Pandemic Era

Current crisis provides an opportunity to reset outdates industrial and supply chain management processes. The key to overcome impact of COVID-19 is to develop smart and quick supply chains.

Following recommendation will help to maintain such supply chain system which can endure impacts of calamities like COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Digitization of paperwork involved in global trade
  • Digital transformation of food business across the globe
  • Need to reduce dependency on physical labor at various stages of supply chain like logistics, transportation and warehousing.
  • Traditional supply chains need to be replaced with digital supply networks (DSNs) for optimized business activities.
  • Employment of modern technological developments in food manufacturing:

Modern Technological Innovation

  1. Internet-of-things (IoT)
  2. Blockchain
  3. Control towers
  4. Artificial intelligence/machine learning-enabled demand forecasting
  5. Rule-based and self-adjusting stock allocations
  6. Autonomous devices such as AGVs and drones

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About the Author: The Food For

My name is Dr. Kashif Ameer. As admin of The Food For Blog, I love to write on the health benefits of natural foods. I completed my doctoral program in Food Science and Biotechnology back in 2018. My research work involved in developing innovative and functional foods, food safety, food processing, nutritional improvement of food products, extraction of phytochemicals from plants matrices and detection of irradiated foods. I have rich experience in scholarly publishing and serving as an associate editor for the Journal of Ginseng Research.

1 Comment

  1. Enjoyed reading the article above, actually explains
    everything in detail,the guide is extremely interesting and effective.

    King regards,
    Demir Cannon

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