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A Perfect Storm – How Grocery Supply Chains Were Disrupted During COVID-19

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Supply Chains During COVID-19

Now, even a few months into the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, consumers are still having difficulty finding many of the groceries and household supplies they need. However, in the first weeks of the crisis, shoppers who braved going into stores found themselves looking at aisle after aisle of empty shelves where essential products would normally sit. Even with advance warning the pandemic was coming, and with truckers having been deemed essential workers ready to move cargo, what happened? A perfect storm – due to several factors, including the inability of America’s high-tech delivery networks to adapt, combined with a weak national response. We show you how Grocery Supply Chains Were Disrupted During COVID-19.

Initial Weeks of COVID-19

During the initial weeks of COVID-19, grocery stores were cleaned out because of panic buying. This was beneficial for both grocers and truckers. The freight industry worked overtime as federal transportation regulations were eased, helping to replenish stores.

Many states went through mandatory stay-at-home orders, plus many people were left out of work. More people were suddenly eating at home, instead of at restaurants, schools, or convenience stores.

When people stopped getting food from places they normally would away from home, there was a sudden shift with a significant increase in demand at grocery stores. It has been estimated that the demand at grocery stores has increased between 30% to 60%.

Demand Shock in the Food Distribution System

With increased demand at grocery stores, the food distribution system found itself upside down experiencing “demand shock”. But what about food and other supply chains during COVID-19  that would normally keep restaurants supplied with food and paper products? They did not simply disappear. The good news is that those supply chains are still there.

The many of the problems with supply chains were caused because of differences in distribution between restaurants and grocery stores. For example, in a grocery store, consider how eggs are sold in one dozen packages. Thus, they are packaged at the distributor that way. However, consider how eggs are packaged for restaurants in greater quantities. While shoppers buy chicken eggs in Styrofoam supermarket trays, restaurants buy larger quantities packed in larger boxes.

Distributors could not simply flip a switch to change how products were packaged for restaurants to how they are packaged for grocery stores.

There are no major food shortages at the moment. Distributors, packagers, processors, and producers are still adjusting how they send out their products. But shipments are still being transported across the country by truckers, even if not as quickly as before COVID-19.

Keeping You on the Road with Commercial Truck Tires Near You

STTC continues to do our part in keeping truckers on the road during the COVID-19 crisis. We will continue to make sure you have the products and services your fleet needs to keep your trucks on the road. Contact us to find the commercial truck tires near you.

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