When the coronavirus began to infiltrate highly populated areas of the U.S. that quickly went on lockdown back in March, I was hopeful things would return to a new normal by summer. Today, it’s still hard to get a true pulse on the industry when so many places are at polar opposites in terms of disease outbreaks.
In April, most ProFood World readers polled lacked enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for their facilities. With some informal polls I have conducted recently, the good news is the PPE supply chain now appears to be intact.
While some food and beverage processors are embracing robotics and remote equipment connectivity during these unprecedented times, many others have addressed the pandemic with shelters, additional lockers and breakrooms to enhance social distancing, more signage, and plexiglass partitions.
ProFood World’s official polling back in April and May showed an anticipated high level of supply chain disruptions, and, unfortunately, my recent informal discussions with several food and beverage processors say these challenges are continuing.
Other current challenges faced by processors include the ongoing labor crisis, greater demands to produce goods for grocery store customers, handling misinformation, and the difficulty to forecast future production demands. In the packaging arena, another challenge is emerging. According to a recent report from CNN Business, an aluminum can shortage is causing some out-of-stock beer and soda brands or less product offerings. And consumers purchasing canned foods in bulk are only adding to the shortage. This combined with raw material shortages of steel and tin from China is delaying fulfillment of canned items for months, according to Marketplace.org.
Just when I was hoping late summer would be a turning point, we remain in the thick of pandemic challenges. I must now recalculate my better new normal forecast for the food industry for year end.
Read more about how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting food and beverage manufacturing:
For solutions and best practices on how to navigate the COVID-19 crisis, check out PMMI’s COVID-19 Resources here.
In a time of considerable uncertainty, a constant you can count on is PACK EXPO International and Healthcare Packaging EXPO. PACK EXPO this November is taking place, either as a live and virtual event combination, or an all-virtual event. Learn more at https://www.packexpointernational.com.