As the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout the U.S., shoppers are still faced with empty grocery store shelves as pandemic induced supply chain-related problems persist.
Miguel Gómez, professor of applied economics and management in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, is an expert in global food supply chains and food value chains. He says worker shortages are causing the current grocery store shortages, which could also be exacerbated by store’s emphasis on direct-to-consumer channels at the expense of an adequate labor force.
Gómez is available for interviews in Spanish.
“In 2020, the main disruption in the food supply chain was the shutdown of restaurants, which caused an unprecedented demand for food in grocery stores. This, together with the inability of the system to re-purpose food from food service to the supermarket, caused massive out-of-stocks in grocery stores.
“The roots of recent out-of-stocks are quite different because restaurants are open and adapted to the pandemic. The supermarket supply chain response to the pandemic may have disproportionally emphasized the development of direct-to-consumer channels (e.g., e-commerce, store pick-up and home delivery channels) at the expense of securing a sufficient and adequate labor force to face the pandemic challenges. Food availability is sufficient to meet demand, but there are not enough workers to move food from farm to table.”