Take bacon, for example. Doug Baker, an executive at FMI, the food industry association, points out that “the 20 pounds of bacon intended for food service may be repackaged under a store brand in 1 pound consumer packages.” But that doesn’t happen overnight.
Likewise, logistics resources are being diverted into food transport. “One of the hardest parts now is how to move cargo from its source to where people need it,” says Mr. Mejia-Argueta. “More truckers are needed, so truckers are being diverted into the food supply system from other sectors that are momentarily quiet.” Trucks that used to carry auto parts might now be hauling flour.
As a supply-chain scientist, Mr. Mejia-Argueta has looked at what could happen to severely disrupt food production and distribution. The main risks would come from panic purchasing and hoarding, workforce shortages due to illness, and a disaster-case economic crisis.
Evidence of every one of those worst-case scenarios is already present, but not to any extent deemed threatening.