The problem isn’t a shortage of food and commodities. If anything, food waste is becoming a bigger issue as traditionally big, bulk buyers — like college dorms and restaurant chains — suddenly stop receiving deliveries. As a result, millions of gallons of milk are being dumped, and farmers have no alternative but to turn fresh vegetables into mulch.
Federal agencies are scrambling to keep up with the altering landscape by easing rules governing trucking, imports, agricultural visas and labeling requirements for restaurants and manufacturers.
“The way a client described it is they’re seeing a tsunami of demand shift from foodservice to food retail,” said Bahige El-Rayes, a partner who co-leads the consumer and retail practice at Kearney, a consulting firm. “If you’re a manufacturer today of food, it’s basically how do you adapt? How do you actually take what you sent to restaurants then sell it now to retail?”