COVID-19 and Agricultural Supply Chains

Project: Research project

Project Details


COVID-19 and Agricultural Supply Chains COVID-19 and Agricultural Supply Chains The overall objective of this research is to define, explain, and examine agricultural supply-chain resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. Each of these questions will form operational objectives that will guide separate stages of our research, namely to: (1) Define resilience, (2) Explain why agricultural supply chains appeared to lack resilience in the face of unprecedented shocks to supply and demand, and (3) Examine our concept of supply-chain interoperability using a set of empirical case studies. We intend to use the US fruit and vegetable sector as an example, and case study, of how the concepts we outline here impact farmers, and other stakeholders in the food supply chain, but develop our arguments in a sufficiently general way to apply to supply-chain agents in any other agricultural sector. The Covid-19 crisis impacted the US food supply chain in many ways. From a demand-perspective, the near-total loss of the foodservice channel was perhaps the most disruptive. Expenditure on foodservice meals (or food-away-from-home, FAFH) fell by some 80% (Mastercard) relative to the same time period in 2019. Food suppliers with foodservice-only distribution were forced to either discard or donate entirely edible food for several weeks (New York Times). Assuming the demand for food is relatively constant, food loss at this scale meant shortages elsewhere. The early days of the Covid-19 crisis exposed an essential problem with the US food supply chain: Despite its evolution into one of the most efficient, productive, safe food industries in the world, it lacks a fundamental resilience, or the ability to reallocate output moving off the farm between the retail and foodservice channels quickly and easily. In the proposed research, we seek to define exactly what resilience means in terms of supply chain performance, explain why the food supply chain appeared to lack resilience, and examine potential policy and/or managerial solutions. ERS provides research leadership in all aspects of food production, distribution, and consumption. Supply chain management, however, is a relatively new area of academic inquiry in which basic research is carried out either within firms themselves, at business schools, or not at all. Indeed, the complexities of food and agricultural supply chains, coupled with a paucity of research on the topic, provide a unique opportunity for advancing knowledge of food and agricultural supply chains. Arizona State University is a national leader in the study of supply chain management and agribusiness so our research partnership seeks to enhance the capabilities of both parties to understand the dynamics of what happened during the early days of the Covid-19 crisis, and how we can prevent a recurrence in the future.
Effective start/end date9/8/208/31/22


  • USDA: Economic Research Service: $50,000.00


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