Don’t panic, food supply chain is healthy, officials say


By Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press (TNS)

via Herald Mail (MD) - Mar 21, 2020


Despite the empty shelves shoppers are sometimes finding in grocery stores, food industry sources say there’s no need to worry, the food supply chain is well stocked.


While supplies at the retail level have been taxed at times by all the stockpiling panicked customers are doing during the coronavirus pandemic, area grocery stores are continuing to restock regularly from their normal supply lines, even as new suppliers become available.


According to the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, website there are no nationwide shortages of food, though inventory of some foods might be temporarily low before stores can restock. The FDA also says there are no disruptions been reported in the supply chain.


But consumers should be aware that there will be still be some hiccups in the weeks to come.


Meijer and Kroger said they are working diligently with suppliers to get in-demand items in stores. In some cases, with those high demand items, such as toilet paper, they are limiting quantities.


“We are using all of our local and national resources to procure increased product on items consumers are buying most,” said Kroger spokeswoman Rachel Hurst. “This includes both current suppliers and new suppliers. We have several sources providing us with extra beef and pork currently.”


The National Grocers Association says the current demand is unprecedented and has increased store traffic both in stores and online.


“Food supplies are plentiful throughout the supply chain and are being replenished continuously to meet the demand,” said Laura Strange of the National Grocers Association. “While consumers might find supply of some products low or temporarily out of stock at their stores, grocers are coordinating very closely with their suppliers and partners throughout the supply chain and are working around-the-clock to keep shelves stocked.”


Mark Shamber, executive vice president and CFO of Grand Rapids-based SpartNash, said the food supply chain is healthy but stressed right now.


“It’s more of a function of the sudden demand than there is a scenario for any one product or group of products,” Shamber said. “Typically, the distributors, we might carry 30 days of product in a store. … What we’ve seen in the last 8-9 days, is we’ve seen the demand double.”


For example, stores, Shamber said, may have 30 days of stock on hand depending on what sells and what doesn’t.


“When you have 20 times the demand, you’re out in 2 days,” Shamber said.


The stockpiling, along with the move to more home cooking as restaurants were ordered closed, led to short term out-of-stock, Shamber said


Meanwhile, companies whose main business was supplying restaurants are switching to retail customers and providing grocers with new supply lines...