Coronavirus on Smart Talk Wednesday: How grocers and farmers are managing shift in demand and increase in business

Throughout the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. we heard that food was plentiful at the nation’s grocery stores. Certain non-food items like toilet paper or cleaning supplies were in such demand that stores couldn’t keep them in stock and still are limiting purchases if the stores have those items at all.

Weeks later, though, there are concerns about the food supply chain. Again, it’s certain items like meat, frozen vegetables and pasta, but there are trends that are worrisome.

Meat, in particular, because the COVID-19 virus has infected thousands of workers in meat processing plants across the country who often work in close proximity to one another. President Trump has ordered meat processing plants to stay open because he says they are essential.

There also are instances of dairy farmers dumping milk into manure pits because they can’t get their products to market in a timely way before it could spoil and closed restaurants and schools are not buying dairy products.

Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association President and CEO Alex Baloga, along with Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture spokesperson Shannon Powers appear on Smart Talk Wednesday to talk about the impact of COVID-19 to the supply chain, as we have progressed more than a month into this crisis.

Also, the demand for food has made many realize how valuable grocery stores and their workers are.

The President of the Giant Company Nicholas Bertram joins us on Smart Talk to discuss how the central Pennsylvania food company is keeping shelves stocked, their recent hiring initiative and the emergency grant program with Team Pennsylvania.