Meat+Poultry - June 2020 - 88

FROM THE CORRAL

Supply chain fragility
Several years ago, I was doing a lecture
on animal welfare and I discussed that
many people viewed large agricultural
operations as being inherently bad.
While writing on the white board, I
suddenly had a lightbulb moment. Big
is not bad; it is fragile.
That thought reminded me of a 2013
ice storm in Canada that destroyed
electrical transmission towers. The
damage caused a power outage that
lasted for weeks. I also remembered
driving through Kansas in the heart of
feedlot country after an ice storm and
seeing toppled electrical towers along
several miles of the highway. If more
towers in another location had toppled,
major beef plants could have easily lost
their power supply.
I have always said that the quality
of management is more important
than the size of the farm. Both large
and small farms can be either good or
bad - it depends on the performance of
the management.

HANDLE WITH CARE
Supply disruptions like the 2019 fire
at Tyson's Holcomb, Kan., beef plant
and more recently, the coronavirus
(COVID-19) pandemic have clearly
shown us that big is fragile. Widespread
restaurant closures reduced demand in

the foodservice channel for perishable
foods such as milk and produce,
and huge amounts were wasted. At
the same time, food pantries serving
the poor were desperate for food.
Foodservice distributors should
establish links with food pantries so
future losses can be prevented.
At the time of writing this article, I
had not flown anywhere since March
12. During this time, I have observed
a slow deterioration in supply chains
for food and other non-food goods.
Most people do not understand
supply chains. Many people get angry
when their purchases from Amazon
are delayed. They have no idea how
disruptive COVID-19 is to businesses
of all types and sizes. Most people do
not consider that to get food into a
store requires a network of hundreds
of people to drive trucks and work
in warehouses. There is an immense
infrastructure that until recently was
completely off the public's radar.
In the early stages of the pandemic,
I looked up figures of the number of
people who work in supply chains who
became sick. It was much lower than
health care workers, but COVID-19 has
caused both slowdowns and shutdowns
of warehouses and meat and poultry
processing plants. Major meat
companies have responded by testing
employees for COVID-19, temperature
screening workers, installing
workstation separators and paying sick
employees to stay home. Many plants

have been temporarily shut down for
deep cleaning and disinfection.
There are other logistic problems
many have not thought about, such as
truck driver shortages. Driver training
schools and department of motor
vehicle closures have interrupted the
entry of new truck drivers into the
system and many new drivers are unable
to get their commercial driver's licenses
(CDL). Between the middle of March
and into April, deliveries from online
retailers became slower and slower. This
was due to more grocery store and meat
plant workers, as well as truck drivers
and warehouse workers, getting sick.
As as result, some companies in the
supply chain are having to get creative.
I recently received a delivery from UPS
that arrived in a bright yellow Hertz
rental box truck. Perhaps they are using
this type of vehicle because the driver
does not need a CDL to drive it.

RETHINKING LOCAL
There has been interest in locally
sourced for a long time, but it was
mostly a priority for high-income
consumers. Lower-income consumers
traditionally bought the cheapest food.
During one of floods on the East Coast
this past year, a woman in a news
report said, "I did not get scared until I
saw the shelves stripped at Walmart."
Moving forward, everybody is going
to be thinking a lot more about where
food and other essentials come from.
T E M P L E G R A N D I N | m e a t p o u l t r y @ s o s l a n d .c o m

88

MEAT+ POULTRY | 06.20 | www.meatpoultry.com

Rosalie Winard

Most people do not consider that to get food
into a store or delivering packages door-to-door
requires a network of hundreds of people to
drive trucks and work in warehouses.


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Meat+Poultry - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - June 2020

Meat+Poultry - June 2020 - 1
Meat+Poultry - June 2020 - FC - 1
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Meat+Poultry - June 2020 - 1
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