Supply Chain Disrupted By Covid-19 Quarantine
Supply Chain Disrupted By Covid-19 Quarantine
For decades, citizens of developed nations have had the luxury of going to the local supermarket or big box store for an amazing plethora of choices. We never had to think about where or how our ground beef, toilet paper and wine arrived at that location. We never gave a thought to the cows, logs or grapes that originated those items. That 2-ply plush, quilted toilet paper was just there, completely divorced from the log it once was. Covid-19 has disrupted the supply chain, and shortages now leave the grocery stores with empty shelves. Welcome to Supply Chain Management.
For anyone with the thinnest knowledge of consumer goods, this was foreseeable. My background is consumer non-durables with Procter & Gamble. My husband also is former P & G. Our son is a Logistician. It’s the family business.
Here is a very simple video on supply chain management:
Or, to put it even more simply, how
shit stuff gets made and gets where it needs to be when it needs to be there.
To understand how the supply chain disruption began, let’s begin with the first sign we saw: toilet paper. The average lay person thought that the empty aisles in the toilet paper section meant that people were hoarding. That’s not what happened. It was the abrupt change in demand. There are two kinds of toilet paper. There is the consumer toilet paper, and there is the toilet paper made for offices and the hospitality industry. Will Oremus wrote an easily understandable explanation for Medium.com:
Talk to anyone in the industry, and they’ll tell you the toilet paper made for the commercial market is a fundamentally different product from the toilet paper you buy in the store. It comes in huge rolls, too big to fit on most home dispensers. The paper itself is thinner and more utilitarian. It comes individually wrapped and is shipped on huge pallets, rather than in brightly branded packs of six or 12.
The paper isn’t made isn’t made in the same factories or by the same machines. The abrupt change meant that there were/are shortages of the consumer toilet paper and a glut of the commercial toilet paper.
What the population of developed nations like the United States don’t understand is how delicately our supply chain is balanced. Everyone involved in the supply chain relies on accurate forecasting and steady market demand. Unlike our expert scientists and epidemiologists, those involved in consumer goods like toilet paper, ground beef and wine pay a price when they are wrong. No profits, no pay, no work.
When you see a picture of logs (above), don’t just see the logs. See the toilet paper, packaging, furniture, homes and many other things made from those logs.
Florida leads the U.S. in harvesting tomatoes, green beans, cabbage and peppers this time of year. While some of the crops are meant for grocery stores, many farmers cater solely to the so-called food service market — restaurants, schools and theme parks — hit hard as cities and states have ordered people to stay home and avoid others.
The loss has created a domino effect through the farming industry, Florida’s second-largest economic driver. It yields $155 billion in revenue and supports about 2 million jobs.
Think about everything that happens in and around Florida. Disney World is shut down, cruise ships aren’t leaving, restaurants and schools shuttered. And, when people stay home they don’t necessarily eat fresh veggies. I know. Try and find a family sized Stouffer’s Grandma’s Chicken and Rice Vegetable bake in the frozen foods section. Or, a can of Hormel’s Chili with Beans in the canned goods section. Consumers change not only where they eat but what they eat in a panic.
Yesterday, Wendy’s announced that they were pulling their signature hamburgers off of the menu at some locations. Why? Wendy’s touts their burgers as fresh, never frozen. The Covid-19 quarantine mandated at the Federal, state and local levels has disrupted meat processing. Victory Girls’ Nina wrote about what she saw out West. WPXI in Pennsylvania reported on the problems in the area it serves:
Meat packaging facilities nationwide are COVID-19 hotspots, but for plants in Pa., the data is especially tough.
Twelve positive coronavirus cases have been reported out of the Smithfield Plant in Arnold, Channel 11 News confirmed through the meatpackers union. That’s an increase of six cases since April.
The CDC says Pa. has 22 meat processing facilities affected by coronavirus and 858 workers who have been sickened. That’s the most reported by any state by a long shot.
Victory Girls’ Darleen noted the disconnect between our urban dwelling brothers and sisters and the food supply. That is certainly part of the problem. Drs. Fauci and Birx sit in their offices and analyze the false projections given to them. They don’t see the bigger picture.
That really torques me off. They can recite “Flatten the curve.” and “We are all in this together.”, but we are not all in this together. They pay no price for being wrong again and again. As Darleen noted, we must open the country up. Right now, we have disruptions to the supply chain. We can avoid famine if we move smartly.
Each step in the supply chain relies on the step before. Any disruption causes delays down the entire system.
I hope I have made the supply chain understandable and not bored you to tears. You may not think about it, but you rely on the supply chain. And, if you make a consumer good, process meat or drive a truck, you are an integral part of the supply chain.