Essay on the Impact of the Pandemic on the Food Supply Chain

Published: 2021/12/06
Number of words: 11721

INTRODUCTION

Background information

As of March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed the Covid-19 pandemic to be a worldwide pandemic and developed a global strategy for preparation and reaction following that strategy (WHO, 2020a; Vasovagal, 2020). The group has provided information on the outbreak’s origins and probable propagation. COVID-19 is the fifth influenza pandemic since the outbreak of other pandemics, such as the 1918 (H1N1) and 2009 Pandemic flu (H1N1), which killed approximately 50 million people in each of those years (Liu et al., 2020). According to the WHO, the outbreak is a public health emergency that affects all sectors of the economy. As a result, everyone should join the fight against the pandemic, regardless of the industry they are located in. Following the pandemic, the highest cases have been recorded in America, Europe, and Southeast Asia, with Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa recording lower points. The global number of confirmed cases has reached 17,528,223 per million people and 687.64 per million people for linked deaths (WHO 2020b).

The first cases of COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan City’s in China, 2019, according to the reports from (WHO 2020b). The world health organization (WHO) declared the virus a world pandemic with International Concern on January 30, 2020, after assessing the severity of health dangers posed by the virus’s high intensity (Barman, Das, and De,2021). A few months after the virus first appeared on the scene, people began to experience significant worry and anxiety, which hurt their mental health.

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According to the research of Chitrakar, Zhang, and Bhandari (2021), the world health organization (WHO) labelled this virus as a COVID-19 Pandemic on March 11, 2020, after seeing the effect of unanticipated and uncontrolled infection in more than 200,000 cases in 114 countries worldwide (Chin,2020). There has been a constant increase in the number of deaths worldwide to date, with approximately 7.9 million people have tested positive, and the number of infections with COVID-19 continues to climb unabated. As the number of cases rises, so does the demand on the healthcare supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE), masks, and medications (Chin,2020).

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic brought global harm to the food supply chain sectors across the globe. The disruptions in the food supply chain have been disrupted in the past due to natural disasters such as the Gujarat earthquake (2001) and the Japan tsunami (2011), which affected the natural ecosystems in the past. In the recent past, we have had a global tragedy due to Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, which has affected human lives and economic activity such as manufacturing and logistics (Ali et al., 2021). The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly influenced the automotive, tourist, aviation, energy, construction, telecommunications, food, and healthcare sectors (Aday,2020).

Due to the current pandemic, governments are working hard to restrict the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. Delays in vaccine development combined with a lack of a clinical cure worsen the problem even further. When a severe infection is present, oxygen therapy is the primary treatment strategy. Treatment is symptomatic while this happens. In respiratory failure, mechanical ventilation may be required to deliver oxygen therapy, and hemodynamic support is critical in treating septic shock (Derossi et al., 2021). With such limited facilities available, meeting the demand becomes tough—especially when a global lockdown occurs.

In March and April of 2020, the lockdown was implemented in several countries to reduce the number of deaths and illnesses, and nearly 2.6 billion people were quarantined at home in the United States and other European countries (Barman, Das, and De,2021). When a lockdown occurs, workers are scarce, and logistical problems lead to supply-side shocks in the food chain. It also results in a sudden increase in the demand for food supply chains on the supply side, owing to panic buying and stockpiling by consumers (Ali et al., 2021). It’s important in the short term to inhibit pathogen growth and restrict local transmission rather than community expansion, and that’s what a lockdown resembles. Therefore, the development of the lockdowns has gravely harmed the economy and is bringing down global commerce. Supply networks and logistics connect many industries, although there were few operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Iyengar et al. (2020), the global supply chain is expected to be affected in the next three years since the outbreak has still re-occurring waves. As a result, a resilient supply chain is required, and new approaches to supply chain recovery. Managing supply chain disturbances and recovering from them requires the logistics system to be in place. Food and medical equipment will be vital during a pandemic to cushion the workers under the supply management.

The current pandemic has led to the truck-drone synchronized delivery system, projected to distribute medicine and other necessities in places with geographical inaccessibility issues (Jepsen et al., 2020)). A public distribution system simulation model is being developed by considering the three alternative scenarios under pandemic circumstances. To meet the rapid increase in demand for medical services, food products, and essentials, a phase-wise plan is also considered for reopening supply chains and manufacturing activities connecting diverse sectors.

Food supply chain

The occurrence of the COVID-19 has caused vulnerabilities in the current global supply chain leading to revenue losses, unmet demand, and supply unfulfilled (Höhler and Lansink, 2021). This is a lesson in adapting supply chain resilience and robustness to support a contracting economy. The current crisis must be thoroughly analysed, and the necessary measures must be emphasized in this regard. As a result, experts are examining the economic and human-life effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown that followed, drawing on research from reputable organizations like the International Monetary Fund.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, all food supply chains have been significantly impacted, including fresh produce, fruits, bakery items, perishable foods, and food grains (Lowe, Nadhanael, and Roth,2021). When the country is in such a state of emergency, it’s impossible to anticipate food shortages. Due to the spread of the virus, there are regional, national, and international food contamination issues that he considered a form of food terrorism. People cannot order food from specific areas due to the fear of contamination, which may expose the consumers to contracting an infection (Khan et al., 2021).

To ensure food security for the global community at a reasonable price, there is a need to have an effective public distribution system. Wheat and rice are the two most essential staples across the globe and transport 40–42 million tons of grain per year. Deficit states relied on surplus states heavily to meet their needs. Farmers utilize the grain markets and state warehouses, and fair-price shops make up the whole supply chain network of food (Luckstead, Nayga Jr, and Snell, 2021).

Foodstuffs are supplied through fair pricing stores to those in need (customers) in rural and urban regions. During a lockdown, the global distribution systems network faces several transportation-related issues (trucks and local transportation), such as a lack of loading and unloading workers and the closure of offices. The impact of lockdown can be seen in the number of trucks that have reduced transportation operations (medium and long haulage) (Min, Zhang, and Li,2020). Uncertainties about vehicle availability and labour scarcity have made it difficult to achieve the intended goal of the supply chain. Due to a shifting scenario in warehouse and logistics activities, the examination of diverted routes has become a serious concern.

Disconnection between supply and demand

Because of the COVID-19 epidemic, markets in a wide range of sectors worldwide are scrambling to develop imaginative and innovative solutions to meet society’s pressing requirements. Because of the nature of the health crisis, most countries adopted social distancing measures and lockdowns, resulting in a collapse of market dynamics due to a major market failure: the gap between supply and demand. Vulnerabilities in food systems caused by the effects of Covid-19 can be found all over the world. For example, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the main vulnerabilities derive from reliance on the foreign market, low development, and the threat of food poverty if supply networks are disrupted (Chin,2020).

Closures of schools and other public places changed the nature of demand and consumer preferences significantly. First, the lockout paralyzed the food industry, causing a surge in demand for non-perishable goods like cereal and canned goods and an increase in e-commerce purchases. Fruits, vegetables, and other perishable goods saw a decline in trade; on the other side, mass unemployment also led to a drop in demand, which exacerbated the plight of the poorest people. With lower purchasing power and dietary changes brought on by poverty, the people tend to eat lower-priced food and are less nutritious. Countries in developing regions, such as Latin America, India, and Africa, have been particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.

According to the observations of Cavallo, Alberto (2018), moving goods has become more difficult due to transportation and supply chain restrictions brought on by policies that separate people from their goods or services. Small-scale farmers, for instance, those in China, are having difficulty selling their wares and procuring inputs, resulting in decreased income and decreased productivity. In local retail and wholesale, such as farmers’ markets and supermarkets, logistical issues can interrupt the supply chain, causing it to fall apart. Because of the dangers of generating large crowds of customers and workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, the delivery of commodities to these locations is vulnerable.

Low liquidity among small farmers may make it more difficult to access markets and cause a production drain. Low cash flow and trouble obtaining financing can make it difficult for farmers to carry out their basic activities, which generates issues with purchasing the production inputs they need. For rural farmers in developing nations, the pre-existing indebtedness situation makes financing their operations increasingly difficult. In February 2019, agricultural producers were estimated to be owed on average $600 billion in developing nations.

According to Mollenkopf, Ozanne, and Stolze (2020), credit security is a financing tool for farmers in developing nations. When farmers cannot pay a loan with liquid funds, their rural property guarantees the obligation owed. However, in times of crisis, this is not a reliable source of funding. More importantly, for farmers who lost their land, utilizing the rural property as a guarantee of payment might have a significant negative impact on their bottom line, potentially leading to a loss of rural property and all the negative repercussions that go along with it. Including deferring financial commitments, safety nets such as cash transfers for newly unemployed people, and enough credit supply

The Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) notes that governments’ primary economic reaction has infused liquidity into the economy to support demand. On the flip side, the developed nations are using quantitative easing to hold down interest rates. As a result, several governments have implemented emergency credit expansion measures. Emerging and developing economies will have a difficult time dealing with a cash infusion (.(Hashem et al., 2020).

Dependence on the international food market

Food supply networks are particularly susceptible to changes in the international market’s dynamics during pandemics when prices fluctuate dramatically. Fuel price reductions have played a significant role for the nations that are net exporters of energy. Ultimately, this means that countries that are net energy exporters will see a reduction in their revenues due to the dramatic decline in fuel costs, reflecting the economic recession brought on by the epidemic. There is also a loss in nations that are net exporters of energy to import food, especially when these countries simultaneously have a high level of net imports of agricultural food goods. The decrease in fuel prices, on the other hand, benefits countries that are net energy importers.

Nations, particularly in the Asia regions, are vulnerable to the ups and downs of the exchange rate. The region’s currencies devalued significantly in the year 2020. Some exporting countries may benefit from this, while importers may suffer as a result of the devaluation. Countries that are both net importers of agricultural food and net exporters of energy have had the most volatility in their currency rates. Those countries already hit by lower petroleum prices will find it more difficult to import food if the currency depreciates. According to Thilmany et al. (2021), these Asian countries prioritize the supply of local markets in times of crisis; therefore, the epidemic has had a significant impact on food availability across the entire supply chain.

Problem statement

The new crown pneumonia pandemic has affected most food supply chain businesses, including production, processing, distribution, and consumption, because many countries worldwide have adopted National blockades, border closures, and social distancing measures have been implemented. Due to the reduction in demand from the closure of markets and storage facilities, farmers and producers destroyed their products. Millions of people worldwide have lost their jobs and are on the edge of extreme poverty (Tasnim, 2020)

Every company globally, including the food industry, keeps tabs on how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected its activities. The food industry is unique in that it creates items that are essential to human survival regularly. Closing one facility will leave some employees hungry, but processors and distributors are also at risk if they get sick (Mor et al., 2020). In addition, the food industry has a significant economic impact. However, the food industry faces distinct challenges in a pandemic compared to other sectors that aren’t as essential to daily life as the airline industry (Nagurney,2021). Others work tirelessly to keep up with retail demand, while others are struggling with declining revenues. Some processing plants were forced to make hard decisions during the current COVID-19 outbreak, including the temporary closure of several enterprises. It’s a reality that this pandemic showed just how intertwined diverse businesses and corporations are worldwide.

Keeping employees healthy and having a sufficient workforce are two major concerns shared by all food companies: people who refuse to work because they’re ill or afraid of contracting the coronavirus. It is essential to safeguard and sustain individuals who work in the food supply chain during this crisis. For this reason, the distribution network must be preserved to meet customer demands. To ensure the free movement of food and commodities along the supply chain, all parties must cooperate. Assuring consumer trust is crucial for food safety and security. During a crisis, customers’ access to food is directly linked to their food security rather than their food availability (Rizou et al., 2020).

For the most part, customers don’t care how their food is produced. Considerable infrastructure and human resources are required to ensure a safe and reliable global food supply, emphasizing food safety concerns during a worldwide epidemic. To meet rising consumer demand, many stores temporarily ran out of essential supplies during this recent global crisis, which increased the selling of these items. However, despite this record level of demand, the food supply chain has remained solid due to numerous supply chain actors such as farmers, producers, distributors, and merchants replenishing the shelves (Shwekeh et al., 2021).

Despite the massive scope of the outbreak, there is no evidence that COVID-19 has been spread by food. Because of this, according to Singh et al. (2021), experts from the European Food Safety Authority argue that food does not pose a risk to public health in terms of COVID-19. The hygiene controls implemented by foodservice providers are intended to keep the food free of disease, including the virus that causes COVID-19. Early outbreaks of MERS and SARS-CoV did not spread through food because of the stomach’s acidic environment. A human coronavirus outbreak could be caused by certain cooking and eating habits (Singh et al., 2021).

In summary, the COVID-19 outbreak has shown four major issues in the food industry and supply chain. First, people have to follow a balanced diet to keep their bodies and immune systems strong. This has led to the growing market for functional meals that contain bioactive ingredients. Food safety has received increased attention to preventing coronavirus transmission among food producers, retailers, and consumers. Finally, food security issues have arisen as a result of the shutdown. This has led to the ultimate issues on food sustainability (Song, Goh, and Tan,2021). The current study will seek to analyse the impact of the pandemic on the food supply chain by reviewing relevant literature, company reports, and other online sources.

 Objectives of the study

  1. To find out the impact of COVID-19 on the food supply chain
  2. To find out the frameworks/models in the literature for responding to the global pandemic
  3. To develop policies for decision-makers and stakeholders regarding the sustainability of the food supply chain in the global crisis.

Research questions

  1. What is the impact of COVID-19 on the food supply chain?
  2. What are the frameworks/models in the literature for responding to the global pandemic?
  3. What advice do you hope to provide decision-makers and stakeholders to enhance the sustainability of the food supply chain in the global crisis?

 Significance of the study

The study will be critical majorly to the Covid-19 policymakers across the globe. The government will benefit from the findings and recommendations to solve the issues underlying the food supply chain. The results will be insightful to the readers as they will learn the impact the pandemic has caused on the global food chain. The governments will be able to involve many stakeholders to develop comprehensive frameworks that will solve the issues in food security.

Food security was a crucial topic in international relations, particularly in security studies and global conflict management. As a result, scholarly research into the economic security implications of COVID-19 globally has not been well explored. Covid-19’s impact on global financial security can now be better understood due to this study. A significant contribution is made to international relations and, more specifically, conflict management as a result.

CHAPTER 3

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Introduction

This chapter highlights the steps that were taken in the examination of the study objectives.

Research design

According to Chitrakar, Zhang, and Bhandari (2021), research design forms a framework to develop a needed process to achieve the set objectives. Research design is essential to the research as it helps decision-making the data collection process, the type of data to be collected, and the analysis criteria. The current study took an exploratory research design. The design was found appropriate as it would help investigate the vast theme of Covid-19.

Research philosophy

Aday, and Aday (2020), say that research philosophy is a critical component of research technique. There are various subdivisions of research philosophies, such as positivism, interpretivism, and realism. These philosophical perspectives allow researchers to determine which strategy to take and why based on research questions. The perspective and approach of the researchers are explained from the philosophy aspect, which includes key assumptions. These assumptions will determine the research strategy and methodology.

The current study used a positivism approach based on a natural scientist working on social entities that can be observed. Data gathering and hypothesis building are the foundations of research of this research philosophy. The approach additionally allows the possible testing of hypothesis which give room for additional studies. The positivist researcher also follows a highly structured technique to facilitate the hypothesis, another aspect of this ideology. Due to the separation of resources from the research topic, the researcher cannot modify them throughout the data collection process. The research can draw data from various points. The data interpretations are made according to the developed objectives for the study. Due to testing and finding support for these assumptions in positivism, a theory might be developed on the current investigations by the researcher.

Data Collection and Target sources

The study’s participants include academics, practitioners, and policymakers in human security, economics, agriculture, and health care from both the public and private sectors. These current participants ought to have conducted investigations on the impact of Covid-19 on the food supply chains. Their studies will be examined according to the study objectives.

The target population is divided into representative groups for the study, which employs a stratified random sampling procedure. Experts, practitioners, and policymakers provide information based on personal experience or archival knowledge about the economic consequences of a health crisis such as a pandemic hits the supply chain processes.

Relevant literature, company reports, and other online sources were used to gather primary data. The sources were effective as the impact of the Covid-19 has been widespread across the globe. Therefore, to understand the scale of the impact, a wide source of data was found to be appropriate in drawing data for analysis in the current theme.

Conceptual approach and Variables understudy

Strategy to Economic Security Impacts of Covid-19 in

Covid-19’s impact on globals’ economic security can be divided into two categories. First, the virus’s direct and indirect effects on the global economy and security were evident. This covers situations where various ailments affect employees, resulting in the misery of family income sources (Höhler and Lansink, 2021).

According to Mahajan and Tomar’s (2021) research, most people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have health insurance or universal health care, leaving them vulnerable to health shocks that could directly or indirectly contribute to poverty. When faced with a catastrophic illness, those without health insurance coverage are more likely to sell their assets in a distress sale or take out loans to fund their medical expenses. Other family members may be forced to suffer financially due to this, which could lead to poverty. From prevention to therapy, the coronavirus was extremely expensive. To keep the infection at bay, people had to purchase a mask every day and sanitisers regularly. People coming from other countries or who were found to be infected with the virus had to pay extra for quarantine, testing, and treatments. As a result, many families found themselves at risk of falling into poverty.

Secondly, Covid-19 impacts economic security because of the government’s efforts to restrict the virus’ transmission. Various nations implemented a series of restrictive measures to prevent the virus from spreading throughout the country. As a result of some of these policies, there was a decrease in people employed. The coronavirus also caused problems in the transportation industry worldwide. In addition, the government slammed the doors on its citizens in which day-to-day operations like business, trade, and travel were interrupted due to these restrictive policies.

Consequently, the virus had a wider impact on employees in the food supply chain than only their health, as most suffered economically, socially, and even politically due to the outbreak. There were a lot of businesses that had to take preventative steps to stop the virus from spreading. As a result, many companies and schools had to close, causing millions of people to lose their jobs and wages. The informal economy was hardest damaged, with many workers being placed on unpaid leave. According to Lowe, Nadhanael, and Roth’s (2021) review, most employees rely heavily on the black market to supplement their income.

Covid 19 and Economic Well-Being

The COVID-19 epidemic impacted the health and safety of many employees in the food supply chain sectors. Millions of employees now live in more economic uncertainty as a result of the outbreak. Families across the globe’s well-being were harmed due to the pandemic’s psychological, physical, social, and economic effects. The pandemic put people’s health and well-being in jeopardy. The outbreak hurt the economic and financial situation of a lot of families. In addition to the ramifications, anticipating the epidemic came at a price. For example, wearing a mask was required, which meant that everyone had to delve deep into their pockets to acquire one that couldn’t be used again.

Economic security does not have a conventional definition. Still, it includes the availability of sufficient income to allow individuals to support their own lives as well as the lives of those who depend on them. This definition of economic security includes the capability of persons earning a living wage that contributes to their overall well-being. As a result, having a sense of financial security is crucial for happiness.

Millions of people, including their families, have seen their financial well-being plummet due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many have lost their jobs, either temporarily or permanently. As a result, they have had to cut back on their income or access to financial resources to meet their fundamental necessities.

Several pandemic-related issues have impacted peoples’ economic security. All of these shifts have occurred at once and quite quickly. For example, losing a job impacts the individual, the entire family, and those who depend on them. This made things difficult in the short and long term because some of these people will be unable to work for some time.

Imposition of curfews and lockdowns

There is a great deal of use for temporary or part-time workers, notably in planning and organizing planting, harvesting, preparing, or shipping harvests to businesses in developed and developing countries. Lockdown significantly impacts the supply chain when employees cannot work due to illness or travel restrictions on local and migrant workers. It reduces the company’s ability to produce and hurts the food safety of the workers. Although they are not the primary problem, movement restrictions (closing the national and international border) have contributed to the challenges.

Moreover, the shift in client demand is critical. In times of dietary restriction, customer satisfaction suffers as a result. As a result of the limits, customers can’t dine out and instead cook most of their meals at home. Customers also choose not to shop at supermarkets and markets because they can get the COVID-19 there. As a result of social isolation and restaurant closures, customers are turning to delivery and takeout. Due to travel and everyday cooking at home, consumers have prioritised foods with long shelf lives, such as pasta, dry or canned food, milk or milk substitutes, and other solidified food.

Lack of labour availability

According to Hashem et al. (2020), during the outbreak of the COVID-19 disaster, there was a severe shortage of personnel in many traditionally labor-intensive fields, such as animal breeding, agriculture, and planting (Nagurney,2021). Farmworker shortages were already a problem before the COVID-19 outbreak. The crisis decreases the ability of companies and agribusiness to work because of a lack of workers, sickness, and physical distance to keep up with production. It isn’t easy to provide businesses with continuous food supply when there are challenges with horticulture and food-related information delivery due to these conditions. The agricultural shift may be defined as mechanical progression and up-skilling of the labour force due to the farming activities’ time dependence and increasing efficiency needs throughout time.

Delay inactivity

Most farming chores are influenced by the time of year and climate; therefore, training must be planned and accelerated as needed. Since all supply chain cycles include the supply of agriculture products, storage, packaging, stock administration, and distribution, delay inactivity can impair output and yield throughout the production process. COVID-19-related transportation delays are another key problem in the food supply chain. A truck requires several drivers, but the epidemic has limited the number of drivers that can be employed. Some routes are also difficult for trucks to service optimally. The Canadian government and governments have raised truck drivers’ maximum service hours in other countries to protect them from exposure to COVID-19 while transporting goods (Jepsen et al., 2020).

Customer behavior

COVID infections are causing a wide range of difficulties, including both financial and health-related ones. Customers’ food consumption habits have shifted due to their desire to purchase nutritious foods without going over their allotted budget. Customers have learned an essential technique for going back to typical foods and drinks that include nutrients that provide vitamins like vegetables and fruits, olive oil, and legumes, among other things. Many clients are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their mental fitness. Thus they opt to get the product that enhances mental wellness instead.

Role of social media during the COVID-19 pandemic

Medical services, societal structures, and economics are all under severe strain due to the epidemic. People and medical professionals would be put at risk if there was no mindfulness, information, or alertness during this situation. Getting the latest infection measures and preventative advice to everyone at a rate that matches or beats the spread of disease is difficult. It’s critical to transmitting information about fundamental infection control issues quickly, precisely, and securely. Web-based media may be an incredible asset for influencing people’s behaviour and promoting health and prosperity if used prudently and adequately.

Since there are no other options for fixing or monitoring Covid other than social isolation and distancing, internet media have emerged as an essential platform for promoting knowledge and support for general well-being concerning public health issues. On top of all of this, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide easy access to data acquired by organisations like the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (WHO) for outbreak prevention, crisis response, and disaster management. Firms’ possible exposition benefited from corporate social responsibility. The link between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the rational establishment of company firms was guided by web-based media advertising devices (Rawal et al., 2020).

Effect on food supply chain issues on the tourists

The travel industry will be impacted due to the travel limitations and decreased demand caused by the COVID-19. The tourism industry has been severely affected by the spread of Covid, which has resulted in several countries implementing head-out limitations to slow its spread (Lowe, Nadhanael, and Roth,2021). As a result, restaurants and recreational points have been forced to close to contain the disease’s spread. Cafe traffic went off a cliff around the world as compared to the same period last year. The closure of cafés results from a cascading effect throughout various industries, including food production, liquor, wine, food and drink transportation, fishing, and farming.

Governments on a worldwide scale have implemented a wide range of policies to combat the disease’s spread. All of these actions have experienced the Covid-19 ramifications. The effect will seep into the financial institution’s system and produce more problems in the years to come. The food supply chain requires a lot of borrowing, which funds are usually paid in the future (Höhler and Lansink,2021). This is going to affect large consumers as the producers will miss funds to finance their production activities. The Reduced borrowing costs and tax cuts can assist diffuse the situation if the real interest and supply-side estimates are considered. The public authority should start this approach on ongoing SME energy projects with stringent measures to ensure their positions and prevent possible GDP losses.

Data Analysis

Thematic analysis of qualitative data was the primary data analysis strategy employed in this study. There was a need to use theme data analysis methodologies because the theme has been discussed from several aspects, producing different stances of qualitative data.

It was necessary to identify the themes that emerged from the research questions and those that emerged from the findings before beginning thematic data analysis. Subsequent thematic examinations were used to confirm the essential themes that had emerged from the initial round of interviews. As a result, the research was adaptable, allowing researchers to check and verify their findings, leading to more dependable outcomes. The information used in this case was derived from secondary sources. Inductive processes involving data familiarisation made the data analysis method cost and time-efficient. This implies that the researcher moved from the general observations of the data to more specific details about the theme’s features.

Ethical Considerations

This study will involve data that has been investigated by human participants from various centres of pandemic affect examinations. The university’s ethical authority examined the study’s methodology and data collection procedures to see if they violated human rights. This is a crucial step since it protects the researcher and the institution from any legal ramifications. It was further noted that any information gathered from such a study would be kept strictly confidential. The data was collected within the set time frame to ensure that ample time was set for analysis and avoid long terms interpretation biasness in the results

Study Limitations

The research largely leaned on information from government agencies, literature review, articles, and non-profit organisations. When it came to getting into the targeted government centres, the researcher was expecting a lot of red tapes; because of the COVID-19’s relative newness and expectations for trouble obtaining appropriate information. There are still myths and misconceptions which implies that the researcher faced a challenge in setting out the correct information for the study. On the other hand, the researcher can cut through the red tape by being persistent, thoroughly verifying the facts, and obtaining a reference letter from the university.

CHAPTER 4

Introduction

The chapters outline the findings that were examined from the research data. The findings were expressed in various themes that are related to the study objectives.

The global food supply chain

The issue of supply chain policy has reappeared, posing a threat to alter global trade. States are debating whether or not to enhance self-sufficiency or to seek security through international diversifications. Economic reasoning supports the latter strategy, which national stockpiles of the absolute necessities will supplement. The qualities that can be provided for politically sensitive industries and that may be tackled by political means have been emphasised by several academics. Included in this are sales to governments rather than private buyers, manufacturing of health and security essentials, and the size of a company’s domestic workforce, to name a few.

Causes of disruptions in the food supply chain

Food-processing facilities are hotbeds for outbreaks for a variety of reasons. It’s tough to maintain social distance at food processing factories since workers are forced to spend long shifts next to one another. Furthermore, talking or shouting in noisy environments causes more droplets to be released into the atmosphere (Aday,2020). Because employees share transportation or carpool, the infection has a chance to spread much more expansive. Furthermore, most employees earn less than the median American household income, and many lack health insurance or paid sick time. As a result, food-processing workers put their health at risk by reporting to work despite being ill, increasing the chance of contracting an infection. Another element that aids in the growth of COVID-19 is a cold and humid atmosphere inside food-processing facilities. Coronavirus may survive in cold, dark environments without ultraviolet light, increasing transmission rates (Ali et al., 2021).

Another cause of food chain disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic was centralised food manufacturing. Food processors benefited from this paradigm shift since it allowed them to boost production while also lowering expenses. However, there are also disadvantages to centralisation, such as a tight and lengthy supply chain. The use of the limited number of massive production facilities to meet demand may also cause issues, such as closing the entire plant if an outbreak occurs, leaving high-capacity manufacturing lines with fewer options.

Economic decline and reallocation of resources to financial incentives and social assistance programs also put financial pressure on governments. As a result, programs targeted at increasing farm output may be challenging to fund. If funding is not sufficient, demand for agricultural production and productivity could probably fall long-term. The decline in order will significantly negatively impact the developing countries’ newly burgeoning private sector (Barman, Das, and De,2021).

Effects of a pandemic on food supply chain

Agricultural production, postharvest handling, processing, distribution/retail/service, and consumption are all parts of the food supply chain. When it comes to food quality and safety, two systems are in place in the supply chain.

The food supply chain activities are mandated by state regulations and law, where state officials check to see if they’re being followed. Secondly, they are regulated by standards specified by market regulations or international organizations (Bellemare, Marc, 2015). Personal hygiene, use of personal protection equipment like helmets and gloves, sanitisation of surfaces and working environments, safe handling/preparation/delivery of food, and maintaining social distance are safety precautions to ensure food flow at each stage. Protective measures are crucial in the final stages of the food supply chain because the number of people who could be harmed increases as the process progresses (Cavallo, Alberto 2018).

It is typical in undeveloped and underdeveloped countries to find work that is just temporary or seasonal. This is especially true for those who work in the agricultural industry. Due to sickness or travel limitations imposed by lockdown, the absence of local or migrant labor substantially impacts the supply chain. Additionally, it reduces the ability of other people to produce safe food and their food safety if the sickness directly impacts their health or mobility (Chin, 2020).

Unemployed people in countries like France have been asked to labor in the fields because many skilled harvest workers couldn’t cross borders because of border controls (Chitrakar, Zhang, and Bhandari,2021). On the other hand, the crisis makes it difficult for farms and agricultural enterprises to function due to a lack of workers due to illness and the necessity of maintaining a physical distance during production. Due to these circumstances, food and agricultural input deliveries were delayed, and challenges supplying markets with continuous food supply arose (Derossi et al., 2021). Because they must source their needs from domestic markets rather than international ones, manufacturers rely on their core input more and are more vulnerable to disruptions. The limited shelf life of high-value foods makes them vulnerable to logistical obstacles that disrupt food supply systems (Doi, Gałęcki, and Mulia, 2021).

Most agricultural activities are influenced by the time of year and the weather; thus, a flexible plan is required to allow for quick responses when necessary. A slight delay or glitch can significantly impact the yield and output of a whole supply chain because everything is interconnected (Elleby et al., 2021). According to FAO reports, farmers have reportedly been compelled to burn or deteriorate their products due to the limitations. Dairy products and vegetables which are perishable are thrown away daily due to supply chain disruptions. In England and the USA, it is reported that approximately 5 million liters of milk are disposed of each week due to the pandemic. Tea trees were also said to be disappearing due to logistical issues in India (Fan, Si, and Zhang,2020).

Maintaining logistical efficiency is critical for the food business, particularly during global crises. The two most pressing issues in the food supply chain are obtaining raw materials from suppliers and ensuring that food flows continuously from manufacturers to end-users (Garnett, Doherty, and Heron,2020). The problems threaten agricultural enterprises’ capacity to carry on as usual. They could adversely influence food quality, freshness, and safety and limit markets’ access and affordability if they are not addressed (Hashem et al., 2020). During the fight against the epidemic, countries must do everything they can to move the food supply chain.

In agricultural systems, pandemic problems have varying impacts based on the intensity and composition of agricultural inputs and the commodity produced, and the country in question. High-income countries often use capital-intensive techniques for agricultural production, whereas output in low-income countries is primarily labor-dependent. In other words, the supply chain should continue to work smoothly, with particular attention paid to the fundamental logistic problems (Höhler and Lansink,2021).

Movement limitations (such as border closures at the national or international level) and shifts in consumer demand have posed significant obstacles. Customers cannot go out to restaurants because of the restrictions, so they cook at home instead. Furthermore, customers are reluctant to visit marketplaces and supermarkets for fear of contracting COVID-19 while shopping (Iyengar et al.,2020).

Producing, distributing, and consuming food impacts the supply chain, as do labor-intensive food processing facilities. The number of facilities that curtailed, suspended, or temporarily halted production as a result of workers who were determined to be COVID-19 positive and who were afraid to go to work for fear of becoming ill because of the epidemic was mainly in meat-processing food industries at the time.

The shutdown of food production facilities had repercussions throughout the food supply chain. As a result, farmers were obliged to eliminate and dispose of some of their products since they could not find a market. Empty shelves resulted from increased customer demand, and higher meat prices resulted from a tighter supply (Jepsen et al., 2020). Despite official guarantees, a few retailers began offering free delivery on purchases to keep people from going into a purchasing frenzy. Supermarkets also established the maximum number of customers allowed in each aisle to prevent crowding. Stores adapted their hours of operation to accommodate clients who may be more susceptible.

Effects of a pandemic on consumer behavior

The cause of food chain disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic was centralized food manufacturing. Food processors benefited from this paradigm shift since it allowed them to boost production while also lowering expenses. However, there are also disadvantages to centralization, such as a tight and extended supply chain. The use of the limited number of extensive production facilities to meet demand may also cause issues, such as closing the entire plant if an outbreak occurs, leaving high-capacity manufacturing lines with fewer options(Veselovská,2020).

Economic decline and reallocation of resources to financial incentives and social assistance programs also put financial pressure on governments. As a result, programs targeted at increasing farm output may be challenging to fund. If funding is not sufficient, demand for agricultural production and productivity could probably fall long-term. The decline in order will significantly negatively impact the developing countries’ newly burgeoning private sector (Khan et al., 2021).

Changes in consumer behavior significantly impact the food supply chain since consumers play an essential role in it. Because of the limitations and panic buying that preceded them, the COVID-19 epidemic resulted in a considerable increase in food prices and interruptions to the supply chain. When it comes to enhancing food security, specific customers will pay more attention than others to cut down on waste (Kiribati et al., 2020). To be sure, many perishable items were wasted or dumped when schools, restaurants, and processing facilities closed. Food waste increased due to transit issues during the lockdown or panic buying of perishable foods (Laborde et al., 2020). Because of this, packing materials/design, transportation methods, and storage conditions will all have to adapt to meet changing customer needs

Effects of a pandemic on global food trade

The vulnerability of food systems to disease-related concerns has been felt even before the COVID-19 catastrophe, despite its appearance. Various crises and shocks, such as the oil crisis in the 1970s, and other global pandemics, have left food systems vulnerable. In terms of production, farmers had restricted access to inputs like seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides because of road restrictions, and a labor crunch hit most regions. As a result, more than 40% of arable land has remained unused. However, the pandemic had little impact on production because agricultural lands were generally located in remote areas far from densely populated areas (Lowe, Nadhanael, and Roth,2021).

Some governments’ food trade policies have shifted due to the COVID-19 problem, restricting exports while enabling imports. Countries apply export limits primarily to maintain a stable supply of goods on the domestic market. Even though export restrictions provide this short-term benefit, they also have certain drawbacks. There are two reasons for this: first, export limitations drive down domestic prices, making it more difficult for farmers to increase agricultural production. Second, countries will be disadvantaged in the global marketplace if they lose their current position. Third, export limitations harm the reputation of exporters and encourage importers to lose faith in the worldwide market, diminishing confidence in international trade and damaging future business possibilities for exporters (Luckstead, Nayga JRM, and Snell,2021).

Trading prevents shortages and food insecurity associated with only relying on domestic production by moving products from surplus to deficit areas (Mahajan and Tomar,2021). However, due to export limitations, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly influenced the food trade and disrupted the food supply chain. Because of export restrictions, the price of staple foods like wheat, maize, and rice has risen, and people are eating less and less nutritiously (Min, Zhang, and Li,2020). Customers couldn’t even find a product made or grown in the country where they lived. Restrictions hurt producers because the worldwide market has many purchasers, making it easier to choose the best one. Local suppliers could not find buyers when export restriction regulations were implemented, resulting in excess supply, waste, and economic losses. Imported foods that need to be processed are not available because of constraints, and food manufacturing firms’ ability to respond to demand was also harmed. Food loss and waste were other problems caused by transportation concerns for air and sea shipments (Mishra, Singh, and Subramanian, 2021)

Strategies and Frameworks for food supply chain

It’s estimated that one-third of all food produced for human use was lost or discarded at various points along the food supply chain before the pandemic. As a result, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, food waste has gotten more attention than ever before. Covid-19 had little effect on total food loss and waste output, according to the study (Mollenkopf, Ozanne, and Stolze,2020), but it increased household food waste generation by 13%.

Food safety can be improved in food processing facilities by reducing the spread of microorganisms through human error. As a result of the fourth industrial revolution, data-driven autonomous production decisions are vital in the industry. By automating repetitive tasks, such as loading/unloading, putting, and packaging, businesses can boost productivity by as much as 25%.

As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, personnel management was also put to the test. Working circumstances must improve, policies must be adopted, and steps must be taken to limit human contact, among other things (Mor et al., 2020). There are a variety of ways that organisations can tackle these problems. To begin, anybody visiting the site should have their COVID-19 symptoms checked before they arrive. This includes employees, visitors, vendors, and contractors. At the plant’s entry, food safety has conducted a temperature screening of all employees. Controlling whether employees are wearing eye and facial protection as well as gloves is essential. Facilities should also think about shortening the workweek and rotating personnel. To reduce overcrowding, divide the total number of employees in each shift into three or four groups, with shorter breaks in between. The final step is to redesign warehouses and processing facilities so that personnel can use social distances. It’s possible to preserve social space by constructing separators or barriers that encompass the upper body.

Employees who engage in two-sided food processing should adopt a diagonal arrangement (Nagurney,2021). When a coronavirus outbreak occurs, using machines can help reduce the chance of infected workers contracting COVID-19. And by reducing the number of food employees, using technology (machines in production) can preserve social distance in food processing processes where humans are now used. By taking these safety measures against the COVID-19, the worldwide market system will be more secure.

It’s possible that decentralising food production could be adopted in the COVID-19 period to avoid the problems and hazards connected with the centralisation paradigm. Local low-scale facilities save storage and transportation expenses while also reducing environmental effects. A shorter supply chain with lower emissions and energy consumption during transit will benefit producers as production facilities move closer to customers. Decentralisation offers greater supply chain flexibility and gives clients access to more wholesome, locally sourced goods. We streamline administrative procedures and better assist disadvantaged people in our society (Nasereldin et al., 2021).

Transportation routes that are now prohibited (and viable alternatives sought) should be identified, as well as the number of workers affected by these restrictions. In the case of border restrictions, the local labour force should be prepared and activated. Through the training and development of local personnel, it would be possible to secure a dependable and long-term workforce in the future. Agricultural employees are increasingly considered crucial, and as a result, they are entitled to better working conditions and more excellent wages (Poudel et al., 2020). Agricultural inputs, on the other hand, should be viewed as necessary to assure food production. The selection and planning of collection centers should consider the collection centers’ distance from the factory. By integrating small producers closer to large collection centers (FAO, 2020b).

The performance of the supply chain is also affected by shifts in demand. As a result, projections and simulations should be used to determine demand. At the outset of the crisis, demand was exceptionally high for products such as hand sanitizers and meals. The perishable nature of food goods, on the other hand, makes them more vulnerable to the supply chain impacts of COVID-19. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, manufacturers can use statistical models to propose optimal decisions for dealing with supply and demand disruptions. Production, processing, and distribution can be adjusted based on the study’s findings (Pu, and Zhong,2020).

It is also vital to make optimal use of logistical infrastructure; in particular, logistics vehicles should not return to their starting place with their cargo unloaded. Using the notion of an ‘Urban Distribution Center,’ the food supply chain may consolidate more deliveries by one or more vehicles, allowing us to utilize our capacity better. As a result, the collection and shipping processes are more efficient as well. In addition, the supply chain’s participants should be coordinated to ensure food safety. Both private and public sector organizations require storage facilities. Markets should be open to customers, and the requirements of those with less financial resources should be taken into consideration. Establishing web-based food delivery systems will improve the buyer-seller relationship. Using a web-based supply chain management system, suppliers, facilities, collection centres, and retailers can easily share information. This solution makes it possible for businesses and customers to collaborate more quickly and easily (Rawal et al., 2020).

Food supply chain actors communicate and trade heavily with the use of digital commerce platforms. E-commerce opens up new ways to save expenses while also boosting demand. Aside from this, small farmers confront numerous difficulties in accessing markets, making them disadvantaged in the food supply chain. Because of their tiny size, smallholders cannot benefit from higher transaction fees. Small farmers can sell their commodities for a higher price and reach more clients directly and effectively thanks to digitizing procedures, eliminating intermediaries. To digitize rural markets’ services and encourage their participation in the e-commerce sector, the major e-commerce corporations work with the government. These platforms mainly provide the market with organic fertilizers at an affordable price (Reardon, Bellemare, and Zilberman, 2020).

The Interpretive structural inSupply Chain framework

In the food supply chain management framework, raw materials and semi-finished goods from main activities like forestry, and agriculture, are used to manufacture, process, and transform the final product. Interpretive structural modelling (ISM) must be used in a hierarchical framework to identify links between various components (Udmale et al., 2020). This framework aids users in comprehending the logistics operators’ interactions in the food distribution chain. As well as supporting risk management by detecting and understanding interdependencies among food supply chain hazards at various levels such as first-tier suppliers and third-party logistics.

According to Thilmany et al., (2021), this framework effectively organizes food supply chain management risk through a step-by-step approach on numerous production phases. Making food supply chain management more efficient necessitates the utilization of information. To explain causal interactions or transitive links among many parties involved in emerging global food supply chain management. An interpretive structural modelling approach was used to understand better the enablers and limitations of food supply chain management. This research addresses a dynamic food supply chain management is addressed in this research by looking at ten enablers and eight impediments separately using various frameworks.

Producers and consumers both profit from value chains in food supply chain management. Strategic partnerships between food production, processing, and distribution were created as part of a value chain framework to increase value along the supply chain. The suggested framework is concerned with the economic performance of the food supply chain as a whole, including the organization, structure, and practices. For the previous few decades, food traceability has seen a slew of applications and has been widely adopted. Frameworks for widespread implementation, on the other hand, are rarely discussed.

Food safety and quality are increasingly ensured through tighter cooperation along the supply chain from farm to fork. For instance, in the agriculture food supply chain, illustrated a conceptual framework to establish closer vertical collaboration through contracting methodologies in food supply chain management. The development of better vertical coordination has significant effects on transaction cost economics. Garnett, Doherty, and Heron (2020) discussed a framework for vertical coordination in a global food supply chain that incorporates chain reversal and a chain management model. A benchmarking service for food supply chain projects is utilized in their framework to create an interconnected system with high performance and efficiency as an integrated supply chain. It is critical to make strategic decisions in the face of a worldwide food supply chain management to boost the overall chain’s profitability through coordinated efforts from an efficient framework. To this goal, Tasnim, ZERIN (2020) offered a framework for the food supply chain management system dynamics modelling. This framework is optimized for an end-network user’s configuration, inventory management policy, supply chain integration, and procurement methods. Despite several obstacles that hamper cooperation among food industry companies worldwide, collaboration is becoming increasingly necessary rather than an option.

Sustainability of the future global food supply chain

As a result of COVID-19, improving the sustainability and resilience of the food system has never been more critical. By studying chokepoints and vulnerabilities in the food system, the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to identify investments and changes that will make the sector even more resilient to various future shocks and difficulties. The involvement of stakeholders will be critical in determining the entire impact of the pandemic on different population groups and the lessons to be learned. For this reason, it’s critical to analyze the current food system resilience toolkit and determine which policies have been most effective and what further measures may be required in response to system-wide shocks. To prevent the worst repercussions, it’s critical to know what makes some food and farming enterprises so adaptable.

Global food system difficulties will necessitate the application of lessons learned from the COVID-19 epidemic. Among these challenges are the ongoing emergency of climate change and the need for the food system to be resilient to various extreme weather events; they need to ensure sustainable productivity growth to feed a growing world population in a changing climate while simultaneously reducing the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.

CHAPTER 5

CONCLUSIONS

Introduction

With an outbreak, it’s critical to keep agricultural and food sector supply flowing, together with health care, one of our most crucial sectors for preventing food shortages while minimizing global economic damage. Even though there haven’t been any significant issues with the food supply system thus far, the future is still unpredictable. As a result, every government must recognize the gravity of the issue and adjust its response as the epidemic spreads. In addition, the supply chain should be adaptable to changes in the food.

Recommendations for small farmers

Agricultural workers’ safety should be a priority for all countries. Employees’ disease conditions should be tracked by healthcare providers on-site. To reduce travel, countries should construct agricultural production collecting centers in easily accessible areas for small-scale farmers. Collecting stations for farm products should be designed to accommodate a large amount of storage (Rizou et al., 2020). Food loss can be minimized across the food value chain by using improved and advanced storage systems. Modern facilities and enhanced technology, on the other hand, result in greater production costs because they necessitate an influx of new capital. As a result, small and medium-sized agricultural businesses can continue operating with the help of government or donor-provided funding (Sharma et al., 2020).

Governments should employ warehouse receipt systems to make it easier for small-scale manufacturers to acquire financial loans and get the best possible price for their goods. This will make it possible for small-scale farmers to use this receipt to store their harvests in a modern storage facility and sell them at a more excellent price. It can also be utilized as a loan’s possessory collateral (Shwekeh et al., 2021). Countries should get involved in e-commerce growth and development for small investors. Internet communication allows producers to reach a wider audience and for farmers to locate lower-cost inputs.

Small producers should easily obtain credit to deal with financial difficulties and continue producing. Small-scale farmers may be eligible for incentive packages in certain nations and, therefore, should take this chance to deal with high-risk scenarios is correlated with their ability to obtain credit. They will be able to have better investment decisions in their production activities. Commercial creditors help small farmers with guaranteed loans, which shields them from the risk of government losses. Access to markets should be made more accessible by removing trade prohibitions and regulatory hurdles(Siche,2020).

Farmers must be educated on transmission channels and made aware of pandemic prevention to succeed in their efforts. It’s possible to utilize a crop diversification strategy, which can be defined as an alternative for increasing food diversity through crop rotation or intercropping to open up new marketing channels and allow harvesting throughout the year to adjust to new difficulties readily. To secure liquidity for the following season, buyers, investors, and banks should pay small farmers upfront for their products. Due to consumer interest and trust, growing organic foods can also increase sales. Partnering with large corporations or the government is another approach to assist small farms in boosting productivity and incomes through investments in adaptive technology (Singh et al., 2021).

Suggestions for government and business

Governments should also develop and implement policies to support production in the event of an emergency. Temporary input subsidy programs should be implemented to protect the area’s most vulnerable to the outbreak. Support must be provided as soon as possible for the spring planting season (Song, Goh, and Tan,2021). For migrants, it is necessary to use data collection and assessment programs to identify when and where additional migrants are required (Swinnen, and McDermott,2020). It’s critical to make it easier for migrant workers to move across borders because border closures and other restrictions hurt the availability of agricultural workers.

The government of the United States has emphasized the significance of agricultural workers, referring to them as “vital infrastructure workers” (Zielińska-Chmielewska, Mruk-Tomczak, and Wielicka-Regulska,2021). More extended stay permits should be given to seasonal employees by altering visa and residence requirements. Some governments, such as those in Belgium, have permitted firms to delay hiring or offer long-term employment contracts (Xu et al., 2021). The EU Commission established “the green lanes” for trucks transporting agri-food items to facilitate smooth border crossings. Agri-food and seasonal employees are among those who benefit from EU regulations because they can move freely between jobs and activities.

Because public and private norms define basic food safety and quality standards, employment contracts between actors in the food value chain should be equitable and unambiguous about the rights and duties of the parties. On the other hand, private standards are subject to stricter controls and impact producers’ prices and the number of goods they sell. Furthermore, these requirements have a large impact on their earnings and marketability. As a result of shifting supply and demand, legal frameworks can help protect producers’ rights while also ensuring that vulnerable populations don’t lose out due to these developments. Regulations that will be put in place in an emergency, such as the COVID-19 epidemic, can help keep transactions safe and problem-free.

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Legal regulations must be strengthened to ensure the proportionality and necessity of restrictive measures and flexibility in fulfilling some administrative requirements to meet the new problems. Flexible licensing requirements for direct selling, e-commerce, and food transport can help small producers and agricultural businesses find new markets. Customers may feel that their lack of food options is due to supply chain issues. Additional infrastructure investment is required to provide more supervisory services, improved sanitation systems, and expanded digital documents and operations. To stop the spread of the virus, countries must enforce strict hygienic controls in the distribution sector. Logistics workers who transport saleable goods should have their health and safety protected (Weiss et al., 2020).

Agriculture experts have to develop models that have rapid yield forecasts and determination of national food inventories that are required. Crop yield information models can assist governments in making decisions regarding food security or grain marketing by helping them consider better management of food supplies in diverse regions and reducing non-food uses of agricultural goods (such as biofuel). Because the COVID-19 pandemic could last for a long time, agricultural companies have begun to rethink their business structures. Small businesses should use the crisis to their advantage and become more organized. Information and communication technology infrastructure development for agriculture and food should be a priority for businesses. Additionally, financial incentive packages tailored to the specific demands of the business are required.

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