Food sup­ply is in­tact

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - Opinions -

For the first time in most of our lives, Amer­i­cans are con­fronting gro­cery stores with rows of empty shelves and long wait­ing lines. While many of us have ex­pe­ri­enced mi­nor short­ages of bread and milk dur­ing hur­ri­canes and snow­storms, those have only been tem­po­rary, last­ing just a day or two.

Short­ages of meat, rice, milk, bread and dozens of other food items have Amer­i­cans wor­ried about our food sup­ply chains. And that alarm is trig­ger­ing panic-buy­ing as shop­pers pur­chase far greater quan­ti­ties of sup­plies than nor­mal, which in turn is caus­ing even greater short­ages and longer re­sup­ply de­lays.

Tues­day’s news story “There Is Plenty of Food in the Coun­try” in The New York Times sought to re­as­sure read­ers that de­spite the empty gro­cery shelves, Amer­i­can food sup­plies re­main plen­ti­ful. The na­tion’s re­tail­ers, farm­ers and meat producers say the food sup­ply chain is strong. In fact, it has been revving up to meet the some­times fren­zied de­mands of shop­pers who are stock­pil­ing sup­plies.

There is no break­down of our food sup­ply — we’re just buy­ing it faster than sup­pli­ers can re­stock. Julie Anna Potts, CEO of the North Amer­i­can Meat In­sti­tute, told The Times that food re­mains plen­ti­ful through­out the na­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Su­per­mar­ — the go-to source for news and in­for­ma­tion for ex­ec­u­tives in the food and gro­cery in­dus­tries — su­per­mar­ket trade groups say they are “work­ing closely with fed­eral, state and lo­cal of­fi­cials to en­sure ready ac­cess to gro­cery stores and the safety of the food sup­ply chain.” Dur­ing a con­fer­ence call Sun­day with the White House, re­tail­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ing ex­ec­u­tives as­sured the ad­min­is­tra­tion and the na­tion that there’s no rea­son to crowd stores or hoard sup­plies.

Gro­cers and sup­pli­ers have one mes­sage for Amer­i­cans: Please don’t panic.

Sup­plies are get­ting re­stocked. But that can only hap­pen so fast. If we all prac­tice pa­tience and pru­dence and take only what we need, those empty shelves will soon re­turn to nor­mal. Re­mem­ber, we can only get through this by work­ing to­gether.

— Robin Beres

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