We’ve received more than 100 additional responses to our poll about how the new coronavirus is affecting the produce industry since we initially tallied the results March 12-13, so here’s an updated look at what grower-shippers, wholesalers, retailers, foodservice businesses and others are reporting about how the pandemic is influencing the produce industry.
Forty-six percent of respondents describe COVID-19 as having a significant effect on their business, while another 45% report the coronavirus is having some effect on business. These responses were collected March 14-18.
A couple of days earlier, only 24% said COVID-19 was having a significant effect on their business, while 62% described it as having some effect.
Areas of concern
Forty-two percent of respondents report that conversations and contingency planning around COVID-19 is an issue with which they’re dealing, while 21% say one of their key concerns is the safety and availability of their labor force in the field, in the packinghouse, or in the store. Seventeen percent report logistical complications as an issue.
A number of industry members wrote in that sales have dropped dramatically, while others reported excess demand — likely a result of foodservice being hit hard by restaurant and school closures while grocery stores see increased foot traffic and sales.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents report having had to change travel plans due to customer or event cancellations, while 74% said their companies have restricted employee travel.
Forty-eight percent of industry members who responded said their companies have asked people to work from home, while 27% said that has not happened yet but is being discussed. Much of the industry, of course, will not have that option as many people cannot do their jobs offsite.