Food supplies during lockdown: No need to panic – Global experts

Experts say between retailers and manufacturers there are at least 4-month of supplies to shock-proof the supply chain against seasonal changes and natural disasters. This means a 1 to3-month economic lockdown is not enough to cause global hunger.

The latest move by governments to stop non-essential economic activities and restrict citizens’ movements have led to panic-buying as consumers fear food scarcity. Demand for staples such beans, rice and wheat have seen a surge globally in the past one month.

Since food supply chain is now global – rice from Vietnam, wheat from Russia etc. – and the need for balance of trade has made it necessary for countries to buy from each other, it is believed the impact of the lull will reverberate across the world

Restricted economic activity and fear of food shortage have spurred citizens into stockpiling foodstuffs thereby putting pressure on the supply chain and the shelves at the stores.

This rush is not necessary according to experts.

Going by a report put together earlier this month by Peter Rubinstein, a British researcher and writer, “What a crisis like the novel coronavirus reveals about the food system, more so than its weak points, is actually its flexibility and strength under pressure. The supply chain relies on several industry-spanning mechanisms that are designed to adapt when natural disasters strike – or when food sectors need to pivot during seasonal production spikes”.

Retailers in top cities hold between 30-40 days stocks. Manufacturers however stock up to 4 months inventory. This depth can keep replenishing the shelves for months in case of total economic breakdown.

That explains why countries such as Italy, Germany and Spain that have been placed under strict, prolonged lockdown are not starving.

More, manufacturers have had to adapt to the surge in demand by employing more staff to rev production across global food factories.

Experts believe the panic-buying leading to what has been termed ‘the empty shelves phenomenon’ will soon be over once consumers have stocked up enough.

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