Coronavirus, while impacting all the industries around the globe in some way or another, also highlighted the weak areas every industry has. This was no different for the food industry. After the coronavirus outbreak, the food industry was one of the few industries allowed to be functional. It highlighted the key areas which needed to be worked on. The food industry is in a transitional phase. The food manufacturers and food processors have been working on reforming their food practices and how they can handle the food, which is being manufactured and delivered. The pandemic does not seem to slow down, so the food manufacturers are already moving to the next phase, and that is fixing the issues the coronavirus revealed.
It is important to note that this is a transitional phase. It is a three-step process, the first one is the identification and addressing of the weak areas, second is the government policies and regulations that can help financially, and third is improving the food practices to be even more efficient.
Some of the weaknesses that were highlighted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the food industry are as follows:
- The first and probably the most significant one is the labor-intensive supply chains. The food suppliers and food manufacturers as a whole were depending on labor-intensive processes. Whether the plant is automated or not, it was dependent on a lot of workers. Similarly, with the suppliers, it was revolving around the availability of workers more than it should be. With coronavirus limiting the labor, the effects of this dependency showed.
- Secondly, the industries were reliant on each other, for example in the food industry, one food manufacturer was dependent on other food manufacturers for raw material or processing, and even shutting down one of them resulted in extreme stress on the supply chain.
- The food chains were relying a lot on international trade.
- The food supply chain lacked adaptability, the pandemic created a lot of bottlenecks in the supply chain and the supply chain was not able to adapt to that.
Food manufacturers are looking to solve these issues.
Coming to the second step of the process, the government, seeing the repercussions of a stressed-out food supply chain, has offered a lot of benefits for the food manufacturers such as financial support, etc. They can leverage that and use the support for the transitional phase.
Finally, there are several new opportunities to be incorporated in the new food supply chain such as the use of technology and software such as Food ERP, to help better manage the resources and transitions. The improvement is direct to consumer commerce, reducing the number of variables in a food supply chain, and more adequate food safety standards, so the food chain is already ready to counter when there is another instance like this. Another area that can be worked upon is the strengthening of local food systems instead of importing from overseas. The measures like these will help the food industry grow more resilient and more robust with supply chains that are not easily affected.