Covid Journal, May 12, 2020
OK … so I’m a little obsessed with food.
But shouldn’t we ALL be obsessed with where our next (and future) meal(s) will come from?
Do we want them from someone who’s using organic and sustainable practices or from someone that grows garlic or ginger in human waste?
Our food chain has MANY weak links and we need to shorten the chain and strengthen the links.
1. The hunt for functional food is on the rise
The virus has made immunity top of mind, and consumers are seeking added health benefits in products they regularly use. Other potential bright spots are products with significant health and immunity benefits that ask for minimal consumer behavior change, like enhanced beverages (teas, coffees, and wellness shots) and fortified snacks (bars, salty snacks).
2- Is the future of food online? Embracing e-commerce for grocery delivery
In an interview with CNN, President and CEO of the National Grocers Association, Greg Ferrara, describes the current grocery demand as astronomical, and given the reality of global lockdowns, shoppers who normally buy groceries in-store are adopting e-commerce to get products delivered to their door. The number of households ordering groceries online in March soared to 145.3% compared with August 2019. While the long-term shift in e-commerce is still unknown, it’s likely that the channel will continue to be in high demand.
3- Supply chain uncertainty: Consumers turning to locally-sourced produce
Fresh produce demand has increased significantly in retail, online, and local sales; orange sales alone are up 60% year-over-year bolstered by their abundance in vitamin C. Because products distributed via cold chain have a limited shelf life, demand is more reliable than for packaged and shelf-stable products. But the main risk lies in the supply chain, with larger food delivery operations becoming paralyzed by delays and now, worker strikes. This has driven an uptick in demand for locally-produced food, with smaller farmers pivoting to direct-to-consumer deliveries and pickups.
4- Affordable packaging solutions are thriving
On the back of increased e-commerce sales and demand for shelf-stable food, the industry is developing a growing need for cartons, containerboard, and single-use-plastics.
5- Food hygiene is imperative now more than ever
Although there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted by food, it can survive on surfaces for several days. In an industry with products and ingredients changing hands countless times in a matter of days, pathogen testing remains integral in the food supply chain process. Even outside of the industry, the widespread and rapid proliferation of COVID-19 has placed additional importance on rapid pathogen testing to track and control the spread of dangerous diseases.
6- Achieving supply chain efficiencies through farm automation
With global travel bans placing an unintended squeeze on migrant labor – a cornerstone of food production – the impact on U.S. harvest crops alone could be devastating. Labor shortages are not new to the field, but one this sudden and massive could force an alternative: on-farm automation. According to RaboResearch analyst Sam Taylor, farmers will be looking to adopt more technology to draw down on the use of inputs, which could open up R&D opportunities for startups operating in these spaces.