By Kelly Miller, Assistant Manager, ALC Los Angeles
There is so much uncertainty surrounding this pandemic, we are bound to see impacts on our food system and the supply and demand of fresh produce. Growers, packers, processors, transportation and shipping are some of the industries that have been affected. Halts and delays due to insufficient labor in the fields will cause dwell times to increase for drivers and ultimately delay transportation to stores as well as price hikes and availability of products. Tom Stenzel, CEO of The United Fresh Produce Association, estimates that the produce industry will take a $5 billion dollar hit from the Covid-19 outbreak. Stenzel stated that “restaurants and other foodservice outlets account for as much as 40% of fresh fruit and vegetable sales” and it’s unfathomable to be shifting that amount to retail outlets.
So far, we have not seen a shortage of produce in our stores which is great for consumers. Many people are looking to increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables hoping to boost their immune systems in order to stay healthy and combat this virus. Behind the scenes, industry members are dealing with logistical complications like making sure the labor force in the fields, packing houses and stores are safe and employees are able to work.
In the transportation industry, there is a growing concern for driver shortages due to health issues as well as limited resources out on the road. Many rest stops have been closed which means limited bathroom or shower availability. These are just a few challenges that drivers are facing and some have even decided to retire early due to the pandemic. I don’t know about you, but I would not want to work without these necessities.
I would personally like to take the time to thank all the essential workers. Drivers, growers, manufacturers, grocery store employees and the healthcare workers for they are the heroes in this pandemic!
Kelly Miller began working for the Allen Lund Company in October of 2001. She started her career as a transportation broker, was promoted to operations manager and now is the assistant manager of the Los Angeles Sales office.