THE Developing Countries leaders need to hold all food prices in check and ensure food safety while minimizing waste.
Coordination and sharing among all will be vital,

IN the United States the domestic food production should be a matter of great concern.

The US relied on foreign suppliers for almost 20 percent of its food, including 80 percent of its seafood, with almost half of that coming from Asia, according to calculations by this firm, Mesh Intelligence.

About half of the dairy products come from Europe, also hit hard by the virus.

Those imports are at risk. Another threat is that those nations and others will also take steps to  protect their own food supplies.
Just recently, Kazakhstan, a major exporter of Wheat Flour and Vietnam, the world's third largest supplier of rice, suspended exports of these products.

Because the United States no longer holds national grain reserves, significant parts of the food supply could be jeopardized should food protectionism accelerate.

The United States does have some backstops. When the virus surged here, much of the everyday food and many staples - including chicken, beef, soybeans and dairy were at our their highest average levels.

This cushion was partly the result of the trade war between the United States and China.

But the United States complex food supply chain will nonetheless face mounting risks as the virus persists. This will require many steps to keep food prices in check and to meet demand.

One potential opportunity is repurposing, for consumption at home, food normally sold to restaurants, hotels and other hospitality locations, where slightly more than half the nation's food expenditures are made.

This reactivate supply chains catering to these businesses. Otherwise, some of this food, especially fruits, vegetables and other perishable products could go to waste.

In addition to China and South Korea, now believed to be shakily trying to go past the worst phases of their outbreaks, over lessons on how to avoid food supply chain bottlenecks.

Food producers in those countries built trust by sharing information across the supply chain.

They reallocated labor to ease bottlenecks and built reserves in areas where shortages could result. For instance delivery and retail companies borrowed furloughed staff from restaurants and food service providers.

Food production was shifted to less to areas less affected by the virus. Delivery routes were also redirected through those areas.

And having faced SARS epidemic in 2003, many food companies in Asia had established plans for business disruption, enabling them to modify packaging, storage and testing to maintain quality and safety despite delays in delivery.

With the spreading virus creating uncertainty the readiness of the food industry to make rapid changes in how it produces and delivers its products to a nervous population will be crucial.

So will the willingness of state and federal authorities to provide flexibility while ensuring food safety and minimizing waste. Coordination among all will be vital.

While the good news is that the world has sufficient food production to meet any immediate needs.

The world Students Society thanks the author,  Economist Shub Debgupts, the founder of Mesh intelligence.


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