Report Examines Indiana Agriculture Provide Chain Points Throughout Pan Pandemic
Indiana food manufacturers may have lost more than an estimated $ 500 million during the pandemic. A report examines supply chain problems due to COVID-19 and how the state could prevent future losses in the industry.
An estimated 2,500 hoosiers who work in agriculture tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic, according to the report. Many were employees of meat processing plants.
A limited number of operations in the US handle most of the meat processing industry. When some workers had to temporarily shut down or slow down production due to COVID-19 cases, it created a burden.
Purdue agricultural economist co-author Jayson Lusk said farmers had animals for sale but fewer opportunities to get their wares to consumers in store.
“So I think one of the trouble was if you lost your supplier because they closed for some reason, or you lost a buyer, where do you go next?” Lusk said. “And what we realized is that contingency planning may be required. And part of it is expanding your network. “
The study suggests that automation and an increase in meat processors could prevent similar supply chain problems in the future.
The report also shows that government shutdowns during the pandemic shifted consumer spending from restaurants to grocery stores. Researchers found that out-of-home grocery spending – including restaurants – fell by more than 60 percent during the 2020 lockdowns.
And while the farmers produced abundant groceries, many grocery store shelves were empty.
Lusk said another challenge is how to properly package raw materials like milk and eggs for store shelves.
“You may think let’s just take the eggs we sent to restaurants – instead of sending them to the grocery store,” he said. “That sounds fine and good until you realize that the way we send eggs to restaurants is different than the way they go to grocery stores. And there were literally things like just not enough boxes lying around to get eggs from one supply chain to another. “
Lusk said e-commerce is already growing, but COVID-19 has accelerated it and is set to change the way people buy food even after the pandemic.
The report was commissioned by AgriNovus with researchers from Purdue University and advisors from EY Parthenon.
Contact reporter Samantha at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @ SamHorton5.