The Research Lead with Agri-Food Economic Systems says the surge in consumer demand at the grocery store as the result of COVID-19 has created a difficult to manage situation.

An Agri-Food Economic Systems Independent Agri-Food Policy Note examines the roles of government and industry in managing the challenges caused by COVID-19.

Dr. Al Mussell, the Research Lead with Agri-Food Economic Systems, says this is an unprecedented situation.

These surges in demand at the grocery store are difficult to handle all through the supply chain. They create sharp increases in demand. But, at some point as people lock themselves down in their homes, they’re going to have fewer trips to the grocery store. That’ll then, you would think, begin to dampen demand or, more than anything else, as people buy forward, eventually they’ve got enough and they slow down their buying.

The other one I would mention and bring into this that is of concern for us, particularly in western Canada but elsewhere as well, is exports. One of the things that happens is, as you get absenteeism, that comes into your logistics system, your trucking, your dock workers, everybody involved in the administration of imports and exports.

The other thing we have to worry about a little bit is we import quite a lot of product. That’s everything from coffee, tea, orange juice, the food products as well as a good deal of feed ingredients, pesticide products. We worry about the logistics there but then there is also a sense that countries that export those products will begin to think a little but that they need to feed themselves or supply themselves first.

~ Dr. Al Mussell, Agri-Food Economic Systems

Dr. Mussell says you can read about this happening with medical supplies already and that could continue into agriculture and food.