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What The Pandemic Meant For Supply Chains in Canada

A recent policy brief that comes from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce which looked into Canada’s food system, called Growing a More Resilient Food Supply Chain in Ontario, is highlighting the challenges that the food system faced through the pandemic.

Once COVID-10 hit last year we saw that many stores sold out of necessary goods. It became more difficult than ever to find flour, pasta, canned soups and other food items, toilet paper, diapers, and other goods. Shelves started to look empty for days in some circumstances and that can easily cause a lot of panic.

Around the world, attention was suddenly paid to supply chains, not just in Canada.

And there is now more support for locally produced and grown goods, and a diversification of the supply food chain. People want to be sure that the system will never reach a breaking point, that people will never face days or weeks of empty shelves or anything that they might need.

If those stores rely heavily on one central source for their food, or from a great deal of food coming from overseas etc, that can leave Canadians vulnerable.

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From consumers to farmers, restaurants, and all those in-between, we can all benefit from a stronger and more diversified food supply chain.

Farmers markets and supporting more small and independent local growers can help to provide more options to the food supply chain. Once businesses started to run out of goods at their usual suppliers last year they had to scramble to find alternatives.

This might have meant for some grocery stores that they were getting toilet paper from hotels that had excess amounts, once tourism plummeted and borders closed. Bars and other venues were also giving away or selling excess toilet paper as well.

When the pandemic hit and finding necessary goods became difficult, local farmers saw drastic surges in demand for their items. And line-ups to farmers markets were sometimes bumper to bumper.

Now we can see that grocery stores in Canada and elsewhere are engaging in growing their own produce, this is one other way that they can help to strengthen the food supply chain. By growing their own they increase that diversification of produce and take control of the growing themselves, offering fresh and local goods that don’t have to travel for weeks to get into customers’ hands.

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COVID-19 highlighted weaknesses in the supply chain.

However, it might be idealistic to assume that any company can see more than a 500+ percent surge in sudden demand for product and not have some sort of delay time perhaps in dealing with that demand for goods.

Toilet paper companies didn’t take that long to get the shelves filled again, we didn’t witness a complete failure of the supply chain. We saw it adapt and change and try to cater still to meeting those needs of millions. It is thanks to that same supply chain that billions of people still managed to get enough to stay alive, accessing whatever goods they could find along the way.

This doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for potential improvement.

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A recent policy brief that comes from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce which looked into Canada’s food system, called Growing a More Resilient Food Supply Chain in Ontario, is highlighting the challenges that the food system faced through the pandemic.

Once COVID-10 hit we saw that many stores sold out of necessary goods. Shelves started to look empty for days in some circumstances and that can easily cause a lot of panic.

The destabilization of the supply chain in different areas, including Canada, has fueled more interest from people who want more local distributors, processors, farmers, retailers, and others who are taking part in the system.

Farmers markets in B.C. and other regions adapted to the pandemic changes and many started offering online services. People could now order what they wanted and pick-up those groceries later on at the farmers market, without having to get out and walk around and look. The farmers markets in BC and other areas played a significant role in helping to feed families when supply chains became stressed around the world.

Photo by Jer Chung on Pexels.com

Growing demand for BC meat and produce

Through the pandemic we have seen a growing demand for local meat, produce, and other goods. Restaurants, hotels, and other businesses, have also had to go looking for local goods too when they couldn’t find their usual that might have been coming in from international sources or even out of province options as well.

Farmers, producers, and others in the food industry, have already adapted to the changing demands and for some that meant scaling up their growing operations. That might have looked like starting to grow in new spaces and growing a wider variety of goods too. Though the shortage of farm workers in B.C. did reportedly cause a shortage of crops being planted last year. At the end, once these weaknesses are addressed then the supply chain is only going to get stronger and be more able to provide the necessary daily goods that Canadians come to expect when they go shopping in stores around the province and country.

Categories: bc, food

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