From toilet paper to beef, the supply chain is stressed, trying to adapt to COVID-19

Coronavirus

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The supply chain is in tact, but remains stressed.

That’s the assessment of Professor Patrick Penfield, Professor of Supply Chain Practice at SU’s Whitman School of Management.

We last spoke with Prof. Penfield in early March when Americans packed supermarkets and big box stores buying up all the toilet paper and cleaning and sanitizing products they could find.

Today, he says there are still some shortages of disinfecting products, but there are other stresses on the supply chain–that complex system of getting raw materials to factories and processors and then into the hands of consumers.

First, food producers and distributors saw institutional customers, like colleges and universities close campuses, then saw restaurants, from the neighborhood mom and pop diner to national chains, close their doors to all but takeout. This forced a shift in demand from bulk products for commercial kitchens to higher demand for the ingredients for cooking food at home.

Penfield says now some plants that process meat products have closed because of employees who have come down with COVID-19.

He says farmers should take note and come up with ways to prepare to distance workers when it comes time to harvest crops.

Penfield notes that with today’s global economy with products that may depend on parts or ingredients from different regions of the world, a disruption in one key ingredient or part can hold up production and create shortages for consumers.

“I think a lot of companies are going to go back and really look at their supply chains and figure out. how do we dual source or how do we make sure that is something happens on this side of the world that we can access materials on the other side of the world,” says Penfield.


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