Long-Term Implications of COVID-19 for the Food Industry

Over the past 6 months, we have been through a lot together as an industry, as a nation, and as a global community. The COVID crisis has caused us to rethink our priorities, with the realization that we are truly dependent upon each other. We should all be proud of the integrity, perseverance, and resilience we’ve displayed.

In ways we never have before, now is the time to reflect on valuable lessons we have learned, to help ensure that we are ready to face the next challenge.

What has your company learned through this process? Has the management team captured these learnings and implemented program improvements? Does the team feel better prepared for the next crisis, whether the impact is to supply chain, employees, or something else unforeseen? This is a discussion we all should be having.

Once the crisis began, our team at Safe Food Alliance clearly recognized the companies who proactively managed risk before the outbreak were better able to operate once COVID hit. Many food processors already had robust programs including visitor controls, cleaning and sanitation, employee hygiene, and supply chain controls. Their level of preparedness made them more effective in following CDC guidelines and apply more stringent practices called for by COVID-19.

This crisis will continue to serve as an example we can use to illustrate to employees the WHY behind our programs. Let’s face it, we can all stand to be reminded now and again of our role and our responsibility in the food supply and why it’s so important to maintain the highest hygiene standards each and every day.

Ultimately, we need to take advantage of every opportunity to better ourselves as an industry. What does the next stage look like for your team? Perhaps companies will discover they need to reconsider traffic patterns and workstation placement, review supply chain management, refine visitor controls, or work in discrete crews to limit risk. At the end of the day, this experience has been eye-opening for all of us. To beat the next wave, we must all work together to create safe food.