Omicron disrupts supermarket supply chains • Farm Policy News


Bloomberg writers Leslie Patton, Elizabeth Elkin and Deena Shanker reported last week that “the highly contagious variant of the omicron virus is disrupt already stressed food supply chains, sickening so many workers that more shortages in grocery stores are almost certain.

“Supermarkets have struggled to keep food fully stocked throughout the pandemic due to labor shortages in every part of the food system, from farms to manufacturers to distributors. Now omicron is taking the problem to a new level. The variant is raging in the United States and raises health concerns that many believed the vaccines had dispelled. Schools and daycares are seeing closures again, preventing more Americans from working.

“All of this will help fuel wage increases and price spikes for consumers, as well as 2020 type food failures. “

“Omicron Spread Means More Food Outages in American Grocery Stores,” by Leslie Patton, Elizabeth Elkin and Deena Shanker. Bloomberg News (January 7, 2022).

Last week’s article also pointed out that “Meat companies are the center of attention as major plant outbreaks in 2020 resulted in shortages and price spikes.” Currently, beef and pork producers do not report significant operating issues, but it does are signs of declining productivity. For example, the number of slaughtered pigs So far this week was down 5.5% from a year ago, and cattle slaughter is down 3.6%, according to US Department of Agriculture data on Thursday.

More food inspectors are calling in sick, too, said Paula Soldner, president of the National Joint Council of Food Inspections Locals.

During this time, Wall Street Journal writer Jesse Newman reported in the Friday newspaper that, “Brands Conagra Inc. expects the Omicron variant of Covid-19 stress food supply chains and increase staff at Birds Eye frozen vegetable and meat snack maker Slim Jim.

The Chicago-based food maker said more of its employees are testing positive for Covid at a time when increased consumer demand is already outstripping the company’s available supplies.

The Journal article explained that “JP Morgan analyst Ken Goldman said in a note this week that some food company executives have warned that a peak in Covid-19 could hampered their ability to deliver products to customers in January. Executives’ concerns ranged from a shortage of trucks to concerns about the deterioration in the quality of raw materials from suppliers.

More broadly with regard to food prices, Bloomberg writer Megan Durisin reported on Friday that “More bad weather for oilseed producers around the world Pushing rapeseed and canola prices to new highs and adding to concerns about food inflation.

“The future has been rocky for some time, after last year’s harvests in Canada and Europe were hampered by a scorching drought and crop cuts, reducing global rapeseed stocks to their lowest. level in four years. Now, concerns are growing over the supply of competing vegetable oils, with hot, dry weather affecting the outlook for soybeans in South America and flooding hitting palm oil farms in Malaysia. “

“Highest ever vegetable oil prices risk even faster inflation,” by Megan Durisin. Bloomberg News (January 7, 2022).

The Bloomberg article noted that “as the recent rally in crude oil is also boosting demand for crops to make biodiesel, futures on Paris oilseed rape and North American canola new historic highs Friday. Their oils are also used for everything from deep frying and French fries to mixing dressings. Rapeseed prices almost doubled last year. “