What changes will we see in the US food production industry?
You can’t miss the current impact of COVID on US food production. We see them everywhere as we watch TV updates or wait for our package of bacon at the deli counter. But which of these impacts will American food production still feel the most of in the post-coronavirus future? Here are three food industry changes that will persist long after the pandemic has passed.
Traceability is the systematic ability to trace the path of food ingredients and/or finished products throughout their entire life-cycle. This is done by using previously captured and stored records. These records catalog key data elements at critical tracking events.
Bryan Hitchcock of the Global Food Traceability Center says the concepts of traceability benefit agriculture with better real-time decision making. “Traceability tools and systems enable food and agriculture stakeholders to further digitize their supply chains, gaining deeper insights into optimization opportunities, sustainability impacts, and chain of custody…We see the digitization of supply chains further accelerating as the pandemic subsides.”
Basically, traceability brings the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) from the factory to the farm. There’s already recent demand for increased scrutiny of food production, mostly because of previous food safety recalls, consumer demand, and sustainability efforts. COVID didn’t create demand so much as it has increased this scrutiny.
Changing Retailer Habits
From social distancing to drive through pickup, coronavirus impacts food production most at the point of purchase. Sometimes that impact isn’t just in how goods are purchased, but on WHAT goods are purchased.
A Forbes article said BlueYonder reported that 87% of customers found products were out of stock when shopping. However, a survey by Shopkick found that 69% of customers bought brands new to them when their favorites sold out. Mass experimentation like this means that big brands built sales during the pandemic, but others may have built a new customer base for the future.
Changing Consumer Habits
Restaurant closures are one of the most obvious results of efforts to limit the spread of COVID. Americans will continue to practice many of the habits they develop today, in the future. Delivery and curbside options have grown tremendously, but so have the eat-at-home and eat-local movements. Where and how we eat our food isn’t our only change either. Individual establishments are placing greater emphasis on health and safety measures too.
According to this restaurantbusinessonline.com article, more than half of Americans EXPECT permanent changes at restaurants. These include more hand sanitizer dispensers and employees visibly cleaning once we return to restaurants.
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We may not have to worry about coronavirus contaminating our food, but COVID has already changed how, where, and when we get it. If you’re still worried about food safety, read more from the FDA here .
If you’re a producer currently affected by coronavirus, contact PMG here to learn how we can help.
Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate