Food for Thought: The Grocery Industry

In the last several weeks since COVID-19 has abruptly affected our lives, one thing that immediately changed has been the food industry. Before the stay at home order even went into place, grocery store shelves started to empty as people began to panic buy in bulk. Toilet paper, hand soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes became scarce and still are today. If you are lucky to find one of these essential items, you are limited to the amount you can purchase and you will likely experience a price increase. Staple items such as bread, meat, dairy, canned goods, and frozen products flew off the shelves and have been in high demand. Egg prices have risen substantially as well as meat prices while a lot of consumers have been purchasing more milk alternatives with longer shelf life during this period of uncertain times. The food industry is indefinitely changing.

Grocery Stores Today

Grocery store workers have been working relentlessly around the clock to keep their stores stocked for consumers. A great deal of stores have even changed their hours of business across the board, shorting their hours so that employees have more time to sanitize and restock the stores again for the next day. Many stores have even started designating certain days and hours just for senior citizens and vulnerable shoppers. For the health safety of the employees, customers, and yourself, per the Governor Pritzker’s Order and in accordance with the CDC guidelines, in Illinois, you must wear a mask at all times, keep a distance of 6 feet away while shopping and in line at stores. Some grocery store aisles are even labeled as one-way aisles to limit congestion between shoppers. Cashiers are now starting to have physical clear barriers to keep themselves safe from customers and vice versa. Most stores will no longer allow you to use your reusable grocery bags either, most likely to limit the germs that come in and out of stores. But this is just the beginning of a new era.

Pick Up or Delivery?

Many grocery stores are shifting to online orders via pick and delivery and it is skyrocketing! Some big box stores have been doing online ordering and curbside pickup for people on the go but now it is becoming the front line of their franchises. Most stores have been following suit to keep up with the new demand since the stay at home order went into place by either doing curbside pickup or delivery and sometimes both. Something to keep in mind though, some stores offer curbside pick and delivery for multiple days out. Meaning if you place your order on a Saturday you will likely be picking it up at a designated time later in the week due to the growing demand. This may not be the case for every store as some still have same-day delivery. For the consumer, this means more planning and fewer impulse buys. The food shopping industry, in my opinion, will never be the same again as it is rapidly conforming to the new demands of the consumer. Online food shopping services will deliver your groceries straight to your front door without you even having to leave your home and due to these services other stores are now implementing deliveries to compete with the new market just like many other stores. This is good for the growing job market as well as a great way for customers to stay safe at home and it is beginning to become the new norm for many. With these new growing options, some people may never step into a grocery store for years or potentially ever.


Impact on the Food Industry

The food industry is essential to life and as such, grocery stores and food industry operations have to adapt to the new supply and demand as well as keeping their employees safe from COVID19. When working at food processing and packaging facilities, employees may be a high risk due to the close interaction of other workers to complete tasks some without any protective gear at all, despite the CDC guidelines. This has been a particularly hard hit on the meat industry. Major meat processors are shutting down or reducing production due to slaughterhouses becoming mini hot spots for workers contracting the coronavirus. Since animals are unable to be sent for slaughter, meat farms have been using other means to depopulate the animals. Needless to say, this is putting a huge dent in the meat supply industry and is likely causing meat shortages in the supply chain. Meanwhile, as some restaurants are going out of business or are severely struggling since they are no longer open for dining. Many restaurants and food joints are still open for carryout and delivery but there is not enough demand for farmers and they cannot find enough consumers for their crops. Dairy farms have an overabundance of milk as they no longer have their regular customers at restaurants, hotels, and schools and the demand for plant-based milk has also been on the rise. Even still the cows must be milked regularly but where is all the milk going? All these developments, as troubling as they are, only represent a few of COVID19’s growing impact on the global food market.

Food for Thought

I myself have been a vegetarian since 2017 and recently switched over to a strictly vegan diet as of January 1st so my grocery shopping patterns have not changed much since COVID19 other than purchasing more vitamins and having to plan out my meals better with making fewer grocery trips. But I have been eating a larger variety of fruits and vegetables specifically ones that help boost the immune system such as, citrus fruits, pineapple, ginger, garlic, red bell peppers, mushrooms, and broccoli. As grocery stores and the food industry as a whole adapt this may be the perfect time to switch up your diet and introduce more vegetables, fruits, or plant-based alternatives into your diet. Your health, your wallet, and the environment will thank you.

Written by Alyssa Blando

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This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.


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