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Iowa State Supply Chain Expert Says Challenges Will Remain as States Reopen

Iowa State Supply Chain Expert Says Challenges Will Remain as States Reopen
Iowa State Supply Chain Expert Says Challenges Will Remain as States Reopen

AMES, Iowa — The food supply chain has seen a disruption as production for dairy and meat has slowed and demand has increased in response to COVID-19. There’s now a greater demand for food on the shelves with suppliers working to meet that need.

“We’ve seen this huge shift in terms of demand for food at home versus food in restaurants and a sudden drop in demand at cafeterias and so forth,” said Scott Grawe, director of Supply Chain Management at Iowa State University.

But eventually that demand will decrease as small businesses and restaurants begin to open across the state. Grawe says eventually the demand will level back out.

“Companies are going to figure that out, but in the process of figuring that out there’s often shortages in over supply in the marketplace,” said Grawe.

Currently, with meat production slowed, getting meat on the shelves has become increasingly difficult, something Iowa’s Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig says is because meatpacking plants are closed as they deep clean and test staff for COVID-19.

“We’ve got enough protein on the farm. We just are having trouble getting it through the processing system and into the grocery store shelf,” said Naig.

Statewide programs like the Pass the Pork initiative and the pending USDA buy back program for excess products will put food in the hands of those in need through food banks across the state.

“These food purchase programs are important for our producers because they keep that supply chain moving by increasing some demand for products,” said Naig.

Grawe’s recommendation for retailers and suppliers is to take a holistic approach as the supply chain begins to change as a result of things returning to normal.

“We understand there’s going to be a lot of uncertainty, but the cleaner the communication and the more frequent the communication that occurs throughout the supply chain, and even among competing supply chains, it’s going to help us make sure that the consumer demand is met in the end,” said Grawe.

To read Grawe’s full report on the outlook of the supply chain, click here.