Friday, April 10, 2020

Social isolation and food destruction

I've been surprised to see articles on farmers destroying food in recent days.

It seemed strange to me at first, but I found the following articles informative as to why.

Yes, farmers are dumping milk. Here's why
Figures out of the U.S. (Canadian numbers should come soon) show increases through retail of 53% in milk, 84% in cheese, 127% for butter. All while food service demand collapsed. Keep in mind food service wants buckets of sour cream, not tubs, or 10 pound bags of shredded cheese, not packets. Tim Hortons uses a big bag of cream through a SureShot machine, while you want 500 ml at a time. Those processing lines can’t change overnight. It takes millions in new equipment and packaging to convert those. So you’ve got retail lines that can’t keep up while food service lines are completely backed up or shut down.
The article is, in some ways, specific to Ontario and Canada as milk marketing board decisions were involved - but the situation is the same for other farmers south of the border.

Farmers destroy crops grown for restaurants, hotels

The closure of food-service establishments in many parts of the country in March meant that farmers who grow produce for those customers suddenly had a large surplus in storage and in the fields.
Growers said efforts to find retailers or food banks failed, forcing them to plow under their crops.

Farmers stuck with rotting produce as coronavirus scrambles supply chains: It’s ‘really weird right now’
“What’s really weird right now in the supply chain is the grocery stores seem to be pretty heavy on product, farmers are throwing away stuff, and food banks are full,” said Brent Erenwert, CEO of the Houston-based Brothers Produce. “We don’t know where the demand lies.”
It seems like somebody must be getting less to eat with retail not being capable of expanding to match the reduction in other markets. Perhaps that's due to social distancing reducing visits to food banks despite need.

"Our food banks are seeing 20 percent increases in demand, generally...When we set up drive-throughs, we are getting 50 percent more people than expected." (from middle article)

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