COVID Truths or Myths: Is the food supply chain breaking, and what does SC disruption really mean?

Posted on April 28, 2020


Every Monday morning, I invite you to share your opinion regarding some of the more exciting and thought-provoking stories from the past week on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting procurement and supply chains.

The purpose of this exercise isn’t to merely “shoot the breeze.” The whole idea is to stimulate meaningful discussion about the changes that are certain to happen because of COVID-19.

Everything from the emergence of the remote procurement professional and governments controlling supply chains to the growing belief in protectionism will be covered.

When it comes to the future of procurement and supply chains, nothing is off the table at this point, so feel free to let loose!

A “Threatened” Food Supply?

According to an interview on Fox News, the chairman of Tyson Foods John H. Tyson “has issued a stark warning” to Americans by way of a full-page ad in the New York Times and Washington Post. Following what he called the “shuttering” of meat processing plants nationwide, Tyson warns that “The food supply chain is breaking.”

The reason for the plant closures is due to an “outbreak” of COVID-19 within the plants workforce. There have been similar plant closings in Canada – including one plant that accounts for “roughly 40 per cent of the beef processing capacity in Canada”.

But how much of a threat are these closures to our food supply? In other words, are we facing a dire situation in which no meat will be available on store shelves? If indeed this risk is imminent, what alternatives are there, i.e., can we go to farmers directly for our meat supply? After all, there is not a shortage of livestock is there?

Speaking of Shortages

According to a CTV News report, doctors say they are seeing “little progress” on improving the supply of PPE equipment including masks.

However, to what degree is there a problem?

PPE Shortage Cropped

Perhaps someone from the medical field could comment on whether the masks I purchased at the drugstore (see photo), or the face shield, as well as the gloves (which I did order online), are insufficient for medical use? Especially given a choice between frontline healthcare providers having to reuse old masks or going with nothing at all.

While recent surveys reporting that 78% of companies are experiencing some form of disruption are great, I wonder if we could drill down deeper to identify in which areas said disruption is occurring and its impact at the consumer level.

A Final Note

Just a reminder to take the CPO Strategy – Sourcing Solved Survey: Assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the procurement professional.

Once all the responses are collected, I will be writing a white paper on the results with plans to publish sometime in the next quarter.

Here is THE LINK (it is an excellent investment of 2-minutes of your time).


Posted in: Commentary, COVID-19