Grocery chains and online retailers continue to scramble to keep up with “panic buying” triggered by consumers’ mounting awareness of the health threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Food industry leaders took part in a teleconference to update U.S. President Donald Trump on the situation over the weekend, and President Trump urged consumers to avoid hoarding essential food supplies in a news conference on Sunday.

“We are encouraged that the president heard the message from the food industry this weekend and urged all citizens not to hoard food and essential supplies, which only serves to disrupt our supply chains,” said Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh Produce Association in a message that appeared on the association’s website.

“We and our food association partners are meeting frequently with government officials to address infrastructure needs and other areas where government needs to facilitate keeping supply chains moving,” Stenzel continued. “A good example of those actions was the decision by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to waive the Hours of Service rule to allow truckers to deliver food and medical supplies.”

“We live in a global economy, which is evident every day in the aisles of a grocery store,” said Food Marketing Institute President and CEO Leslie Sarasin in a statement. “As this situation progresses, the grocery supply chain will be tested, but built-in efficiencies, strong trading partner relationships, nimble technology and service relationships, and genuine concern for our customers will be manifested in the resilience of this supply chain.”

Meanwhile, the Consumer Brands Association, which represents consumer packaged goods companies, sent the president a message identifying a set of five recommendations designed to keep the supply chain for packaged foods operating smoothly. The association’s recommendations include the following:

  1. Request funds in upcoming emergency supplemental appropriations bills to mitigate supply chain disruptions and manage food, personal care, hygiene, cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilization input shortages.
  2. Coordinate with state governors to ensure that gathering restrictions do not affect the operations of manufacturing facilities producing essential goods.
  3. Establish an Office of Supply Chain that will coordinate across agencies that touch supply chain to ensure the movement of essential goods as the crisis evolves.
  4. Include personal care, hygiene, cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilization products on a temporary basis in Pandemic-Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (P-SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and other federal programs.
  5. Suspend for six months new regulatory decisions that could hinder supply chains or take focus and resources away from the national need for increased production and delivery of critical goods.

United Fresh statement

FMI statement

Consumer Brands Association statement

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