The fragility of the supply chain as a whole has been exposed by the COVID 19 pandemic. There have been major transportation delays with border closures and reprioritisation of goods
The fragility of the supply chain as a whole has been exposed by the COVID 19 pandemic. There have been major transportation delays with border closures and reprioritisation of goods – such as the shift to personal protective equipment and ventilators – disrupting normal supply flows. Food supply chains have sometimes broken down due to logistical issues, and other products have gone unsold due to consumption shift – a striking example of which is the widespread closure of restaurants. For companies in regions like North America, these events have highlighted the need for greater transparency and the need to better understand the food supply chain in order to anticipate breakdowns in the future.
Some of these vulnerabilities may be addressed by building and accelerating a more sustainable food supply chain - not just on the environmental level, but on the social one as well. How companies engage, who they engage with and what they want to achieve are all factors that could be reconsidered. It is no longer about just knowing your supplier and being able to trace goods – now may be the time to also rethink the role of the food supply chain as part of the greater conversation on global nutrition, preservation of natural capital, and ensuring a decent living for farmers.
New sustainability trends have emerged as a result of COVID-19. The current health crisis is bringing to light the need for everyone on the social ladder to have access to quality, nutritious food. Consumer behaviours are changing, and companies can learn from this information and improve their supply chains. Below are just a few of the current sustainability trends in the marketplace:
Before looking at the opportunities for sustainable food supply chains in a post-COVID-19 world, there are two major challenges to understand: how do organisations address inequality and access to nutritious, quality food? And, how can farmers be supported in the transition towards more sustainably produced nutritious food? To build greater sustainability and resiliency, the entire food supply chain will have to tackle this problem head on. Before the pandemic, 135 million people worldwide were already dealing with acute hunger, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. And, it is estimated that in Europe alone, more than 950,000 deaths in 2017 were attributed to unhealthy diets.
There are three main tracks for addressing these challenges:
Keeping in mind the challenges of addressing equal access to nutritious food and farmers’ support, all parties in the food supply chain could begin to act upon new opportunities to accelerate a sustainable model in the Next Normal. These opportunities include:
The Next Normal offers numerous opportunities to rethink and reimagine a more resilient, sustainable food supply chain. By rethinking the process from producer to final consumer, companies may accelerate their sustainable practices and increase the likelihood that nutritious, healthy food becomes more accessible to those in need. They can also make sure farmers are being supported at the source. Many of these steps can be taken immediately by investing in the agricultural transition towards more localised, sustainable and nutritious food production and consumption.