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Fear of Food Shortage and Food Insecurity during the Pandemic

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic impacted the world the economic system significantly, many industries are having trouble regarding operation and logistics management. This article’s primary focus is targeting the central issue of food industries– fear of food shortage and food insecurity– which has been a critical issue for over a decade.

What is the fear of food shortage and food insecurity? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fear of food shortage and food insecurity refers to a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. (USDA) The connection between fear of food shortage, food insecurity, and hunger is closely related. However, the issue expands continuously by governments restriction in different countries during the pandemic.

Essentially, the fear of food shortage and food insecurity classify into grocery items and food order delivery. Both categories share entirely different characteristics and the problems that both are facing currently. The food industry issue is complex and vital since it is related to human health, and food production needs specific guidelines to address. Based on U.S. Food & Drug Administration, all the manufacturer factories and food suppliers must follow the guideline of Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), which is the management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement, and handling, to manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of the finished product. (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). Therefore, people need to be aware of the food problem and solve it as soon as possible while the pandemic this type of disruption happening globally.

Grocery items considered a critical portion of human life. People cannot survive without enough food. However, the food supply chain faces unique challenges regarding agricultural farms, processed food manufacturers, food material suppliers, whole-food markets, and food warehouses by the Covid-19 outbreak. Moreover, governments worldwide have made significant restrictions on the transportation (land, water, and air transport) of goods and labor migration. (Oxford Academic). A Couple examples include: meat is not allowed to ship worldwide and a shortage of truck drivers responsible for transporting the shipments from centralized warehouse to local retail stores. Hence, removing particular government restrictions and maintaining logistics efficiency are vital factors for the food industry, especially in the global crisis.

Predominantly, U.S. Food & Drug Administration did provide couples suggestion and implication related issues which mentioned above. In terms of tier and echelon employees in the food supply chain, employees should be managed, such as appropriately implemented on personal hygiene (including contracted workers). Moreover, they should also manage the operation in a food service establishment or retail food store. Specifically, wash, rinse, and sanitize food contact surfaces, dishware, utensils, food preparation surface, and beverage equipment after use. If those standards are met, companies have a more extensive negotiation with the particular restriction with the government. For the solution to truck driver shortage with the logistic issues in the food industry, some practical solving methods include increasing driver pay, decreasing the time on the road, lower regulated driving age, and autonomous trucking (REDWOOD). With more carriers and trucks for logistics and transportation, the food supply chain will be better than the circumstance during the pandemic.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, almost the entire hospitality and food & beverage industries were forced to shut down. Hence, café and restaurants are only availably accepting online orders and take-out. The We Explain L.A. website mentioned that a group of Asian Americans feel dangerous to buy groceries in the retail store due to the recent Anti-Asian issue (We Explain L.A.). Therefore, people are emerging the new trend of “Eating food at home.” Food at home spending increased from $808.0 billion in 2019 to $876.8 billion in 2020, an 8% growth year by year (USDA). As a result, the demand for food at home service is gradually inclined during the pandemic.

Even though the new online ordering and delivery platforms such as UberEat and Foodpanda gradually arise, there are numerous logistics and transportation issues in food delivery. Due to a massive demand for online orders, it is challenging for delivery partners to deliver food from a restaurant while maintaining the utmost quality. For example, many Asians argue about the quality of food delivered by the online ordering platform, especially scooter drivers. Overall, the problem of food delivery created a significant loophole between the difference in the food served in restaurants and food delivered to home.

In general, there are two specific solutions to solving food delivery issues. First, the restaurant should implement a proper resource management method that can lower operating costs and boost the functional efficiency of the delivery business for higher customer satisfaction. Besides, restaurants should be higher levels of responsiveness, customer friendliness and be a great support during the pandemic (The Bestaurant Times). Thus, those two solutions can bring a positive impact to the food delivery issue.

Ultimately, the problem of fear of food shortage and food insecurity is changing dynamically. Therefore, as human beings, it is our responsibility to make the supply chain in the food industry smoother and less trouble.

Authored by: Han-Shen Tsai


FEEDING AMERICA. “What Is Food Insecurity in America?” Hunger and Health, 7 Oct. 2019, hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/understand-food-insecurity.

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP).” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 29 Jan. 2018, http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation-food-and-dietary-supplements/hazard-analysis-critical-control-point-haccp.

Serpil, Aday. “Impact of COVID-19 on the food supply chain.” Oxford Academic, 24 August 2020, https://academic.oup.com/fqs/article/4/4/167/5896496.

Curoe, Matt. “What Is Causing the Truck Driver Shortage and How Can We Fix It.” Redwood Logistics, 20 July 2021, http://www.redwoodlogistics.com/truck-driver-shortage-causesproblems-solutions.

Josie, Huang. “Asian Households Are More Likely To Report Food Shortages Because Residents Fear Going Out.” We Explain L.A., 11 Aug. 2021, laist.com/news/food/asianhouseholds-more-likely-to-report-food-shortage-fear-of-going-out-census-analysis.

“USDA ERS – Food Prices and Spending.” USDA Economic Research Service U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, 2020, http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-foodstatistics-charting-the-essentials/food-prices-and-spending.

Sonali. “7 Challenges Faced by Food Delivery Services and How to Address Them In 2021.” The Bestaurant Times, 22 Sept. 2021, http://www.posist.com/restaurant-times/restro-gyaan/fooddelivery-challenges.html.

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