The Summerland Advocate-Messenger - Reliable, Trustworthy Reporting, Capturing The Heartbeat Of Our Community

By LuAnn Schindler
Publisher 

-Isms: Views on life in rural America

 

March 19, 2020



By now, you’ve more than likely seen photos on social media or in other media outlets showing bare shelves in grocery stores.

Those photos give the appearance that America is running out of food (and toilet paper, but that’s another issue). Those photos lead to unnecessary panic and anxiety.

While a picture is worth a thousand words, those photos don’t tell the whole story.

Ask dairy farmers and meat producers. The food supply chain isn’t empty. In many cases, a large surplus of goods is stockpiled in cold storage, loaded on trucks and transported to stores, where shelves are stocked.

That said, the supply and demand caused by COVID-19 couldn’t be predicted, and the stockpile is dwindling as goods fly off store shelves faster than industry experts expected.

Producing food takes time. According to the National Chicken Council, more than 950 million pounds of chicken is currently in cold storage.

Can that supply sustain the 60-day growing time, especially as stores increase orders to meet the supply and demand?

In normal times, yes, but nothing is normal in the age of the coronavirus.

What is the effect of seeing a steady stream of photos showing empty shelves?

Simply put, people view empty shelves, which induces panic buying, and in some instances, hoarding goods. That frenzy began a few weeks back, when toilet paper, hand sanitizer and wipes were whisked off shelves, starting panic-induced buying that, recently, has extended to include canned goods, milk, bread and frozen products.

According to the Nielsen research firm, rice sales have increased 50% over the past two months, as did sales of dried beans, bottled water, oat milk, peanut butter, pasta and pretzels.

Data also shows a large stockpile of avocados since cruise ships have been docked.

Bring on the avocado toast.

What can consumers do to help?

Stop panicking. Purchase what you need.

Pretty sure one person doesn’t need an entire case of disinfectant or 10 gallons of milk, even if you’re self-quarantined for two weeks.

Some stores are reducing hours of operation; others are limiting sales quantities on high-demand products.

While it seems like the world is spiraling out of control, we need to heed recommendations and understand implications of a potential quarantine. Of course, be prepared, but don’t go overboard.

We all face the same situation.

 

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