Unfortunately, it’s not if but when, with some food sectors already dealing with the effects.
The variant of the COVID virus, Omicron, is almost guaranteed to cause disruptions of the current food supply chain with some companies already feeling the sting.
It’s a real problem
Increased infections are affecting everything from farm to table, keeping services/production below pre-pandemic levels.
“It’s entirely reasonable for all of us to project that the next month or so could remain strained within the supply chain as Omicron runs its course”, Sean Connolly, Conagra – WSJ
For some reason the meat production sector seems to have been affected more severely than most. As a matter of fact we could already be seeing the first signs of a possible slowdown:
- Hog slaughter the week of Jan. 3-7 was down 5.5% from the same week last year*
- Cattle slaughter down 3.6%*
In addition, USDA inspectors are calling in sick more than usual. Combined, employee shortages will affect the entire food supply chain. Not a good thing
“The Delta variant didn’t have a whole lot of impact on the workforce, but Omicron is nailing us.” – Paula Soldner, chair of the National Joint Council of Food Inspections Locals – Bloomberg
This is not happening in the future, this is something that is taking place now. The surge in Omicron will most likely make it harder for food companies to fill orders immediately.
“The entire food-at-home supply chain is being impaired by deeper labor shortages than anticipated — this much seems clear to us — and it’s only a question of how bad the impact is,” Ken Goldman, JP Morgan analyst – WSJ
The highly contagious Omicron virus variant is disrupting an already stressed food supply chain, sickening so many workers that more shortages at the consumer end are all but certain.
Keep the faith
Is there light at the end of the tunnel? I believe so. The food production industry, as a whole, is pretty resilient and has overcome a variety of challenges over the years. I have no doubt this will be the same.