Local supply chain expert: 'We have enough food'

Posted at 10:46 AM, May 04, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. - A local supply chain expert says despite some stresses, the food supply chain remains strong in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Erika Marsillac is an associate professor of Information Technology & Decision Sciences at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

She studies supply chains and has been paying close attention to what's happened since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

"I don’t agree that it’s broken because we do have resiliency built in to quite a bit of the supply chain, but obviously when you have some empty store shelves, things like that, everything isn’t working quite as a it should," she told News 3 anchor Todd Corillo.

"Overall, I want to emphasize that we have enough food. In the United States, we actually have a plethora of food options," Dr. Marsillac added.

Early in the pandemic, toilet paper became scarce on store shelves. Dr. Marsillac attributes that to several factors.

"Anyone who wasn’t an essential worker had to go home. The schools closed and the workplaces closed. So, suddenly you need a different volume of toilet paper at home than you needed before. I think, too, there was also a lot of panic buying."

Now with meat processing facilities becoming outbreak centers of COVID-19, Dr. Marsillac says there will likely be some changes when it comes to finding your favorite meats, but she says you shouldn't worry too much.

“There are going to be impacts from that, but keep in mind that they also process a portion of the meat that we have. So, there are many other options."

"What I would say is that you’ll probably see short-term shortages for some kinds of meat, particularly the ones that use a lot of human intervention. Deboning a chicken to the nice pretty boneless chicken breast that everyone likes to cook with because it’s so easy takes more work than buying an entire chicken. So, you’ll see some shortages there, but they’re not going to be long-term," Dr. Marsillac added.

Overall, Dr. Marsillac says the supply chain remains strong and wants people to be reassured that there will be plenty of food on store shelves in the weeks ahead.

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