Is the food supply strong enough to weather COVID-19?

University of California / July 2, 2020

“Food systems are used to having incredible shocks but they’re almost always on supply side,” said Daniel Sumner, a professor of agricultural economics at UC Davis. “A freeze wipes out an orange crop, or a disease affects chickens and egg prices go up. This was the first time in a long time that there was an incredible disruption in (demand).”

“It’s remarkable how we’ve had so much disruption but yet we’ve all had plenty to eat,” Sumner said during the panel. “The disruption in the meat supply has been quite minor. There’s been lots of headlines but the meat’s been there…We have a food system that’s worked remarkably well.”

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How COVID is Affecting U.S. Food Supply Chain

All those bare shelves? “They were dramatic, but not emblematic,” says Daniel Sumner, PhD, a distinguished professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis. Early on, panicked consumers raced to stockpile canned goods, rice, dried beans, and other staples, creating eerie impressions of scarcity in stores. But the food supply chain has remained surprisingly strong, according to Sumner. “It’s much more resilient and solid now than I would have thought 2 months ago.”

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COVID-19’s Impact on Global Agricultural Supply Chains and the Challenges Ahead

Date: June 16, 2020

Co-hosted by: UC Davis Global Affairs, UC Davis World Food Center, in collaboration with ISAM-International School of Agri Management

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted agricultural supply chains within the United States and worldwide. A panel of experts from academia, industry and the non-profit sector will discuss how the pandemic has disrupted global supply chains in the near-term. Looking ahead, they will offer an assessment of COVID 19’s long-run impact on global agricultural trade and how we can prepare for similar crises in the future.  It is also part of the Campus Global Theme: Food for Thought: Feeding Ourselves, Feeding the Planet

Panelists included:

  • Flavio Alzueta, former vice president and chief marketing officer, GLOBALG.A.P and professor at ISAM-International School of Agri Management in Almería, Spain
  • Shakira Phiri,  investment promotion officer at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism in Malawi, and 2018-19 Mandela Washington Fellow at UC Davis
  • Gloria E. Polanco, General Manager of FRUTESA (Frutas Tropicales de Guatemala, S.A.) 
  • Daniel Sumner, Frank H. Buck, Jr. Distinguished Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center

Moderated by: 

  • Ermias Kebreab, director, of the UC Davis World Food Center, associate dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Global Engagement, and professor and Sesnon Endowed Chair in animal science, UC Davis
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