Food Supply Chain During Pandemic: Changes in Food Production, Food Loss and Waste

Food Supply Chain During Pandemic: Changes in Food Production, Food Loss and Waste

Shahla M. Wunderlich

Nutrition Optima LLC Princeton New Jersey, United States of America

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The global COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 triggered disruption in almost all areas of the Food Supply Chain (FSC). During this year many confounding factors contributed to the disruption of the normal FSC and impacted the system adversely. This includes the agricultural food production system, the first phase of the FSC, to the final delivery of food to consumers. Food was lost or wasted as farmers were unable to transfer and distribute the food to retailers. Food shortages became problematic and consum- ers were not able to obtain necessary staples. Then consumers started to purchase too much (hoard- ing), as they feared shortages, which resulted in both rises in food prices and in higher food waste by consumers. Several reports indicated that food waste during this period was remarkably more than in pre-pandemic times. These situations were worsened as the pandemic continued. In this paper we define food loss as occurring mostly during the agricultural food production and food waste that mostly hap- pening during distribution of food at the retailer and consumer levels. The food loss and waste (FLW) both have been shown to add to the diminution of the natural resources and the rise in greenhouse gas emissions. The high level of greenhouse gas in turn can harm the environment. In the United States (U.S.), similar to other countries, natural resources such as land (about 50%) and water (67%) are used for agriculture and food production. The main objective of this paper is therefore, to emphasize some of the current findings on the potential impact of the pandemic on the FSC which resulted in more FLW. Many reports suggest every stage of the FSC can be a significant contributor of FLW and environmen- tal resource depletion. Long-term strategies must be implemented to keep the FSC robust, stable and sustainable during unfavorable circumstances and crises.


environment, pandemic, consumer, food supply chain, food loss and waste, sustainability


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