covid-19 affects the food system

Covid-19 Affects The Food System

Rachel Lowisz Wholesale News

How COVID-19 Affects The Food System

Many uncertainties rock the world in the wake of the coronavirus that continues to sweep the world. As we stay socially distancing for our own safety, industries, many industries that we usually take for granted are experiencing some difficulties. The food industry is currently doing its best to handle these issues. It’s important to be there for consumers during this uncertain time, while also managing the social and economic changes this virus has brought. Learning the details of how Covid-19 affects the food system, the availability of fresh food, and our habits around it is astonishing.

Around the world, farmers were trying as late as April to keep working as usual

how covid-19 is affecting food

The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture has reported that its agriculture production is still considered an essential part of life during this uncertain time. Farmers are still working in the country, which is allowing the country’s native almond plants to have a good crop. The 2020 crop of almonds from Spain is expected to be healthy due to favorable weather conditions. According to information from the European Union, Spain is considered a formidable player in the almond industry on the continent due to strong demand. 

In South America, the annual walnut harvest is taking place at this point. Although a state of emergency is in effect all over the continent, recently farmers have been working their usual schedules. This will help ensure the walnut harvest takes place. 

At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, there was a rash of panic buying in all of the stores. However, the frenzy has stopped as China’s supply chain has once again resumed. This is helping things slowly ramp up again.

All over the world, it’s clear to see how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting food production.

Consumers are stocking up

Consumers are stocking up on shelf-stable items. This is due to the fact that they are simply not able or willing to go to the grocery store as often as usual. While the outbreak has led to rashes of panic buying, it has also led to an overall change in consumer behavior. Consumers are unable to indulge in going out to eat at their favorite restaurants, bars, and fast-casual eateries. This has led to a massive resurgence in home cooking. 

According to a recent poll, more than half of American consumers reported they were cooking more due to staying at home because of social distancing. Another 46% of those staying at home said they were also baking more. Of those who were surveyed, 75% said that they were now much more confident in their skills in the kitchen.  50% conveyed that they were learning more than they ever had before. 

Experts believe that these answers hint that home cooking might continue to trend after the pandemic. Those who had no reason to cook before now do. This can allow for skills and habits to develop that otherwise wouldn’t have. Also, despite the many jokes and online memes about eating indulgently and putting on weight during social distancing, it is actually reported that many individuals are placing emphasis on health and wellness. Hopefully, this leads to long-lasting change going forward. Who would’ve thought quarantine would potentially be beneficial in some ways?

Difficulties in the COVID-19 Crisis 

In the United States, agricultural systems are facing labor shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic. The American Farm Bureau reports the biggest concern among US farmers and ranchers at this point is the availability of labor for their farms. The majority of it is sourced through the H-2A visa program. The government suspended this program in response to the way that Covid-19 affects the food system. Labor shortages could lead to a lower supply and higher costs of supplies. Examples include fertilizer, seeds, and animal feed, all of which diminish farmers’ bottom lines. 

The impact of the COVID-19 virus is still increasing. It’s impacted nearly every aspect of life across significant agriculture states like California and the nation. Crops like almonds are having a tough time in the US markets. Almond pollination has been a highlight recently, but a decline in market prices has also tempered that element of the AG industry. Sales to other countries hard-hit by the virus could also decrease imports. 

On April 17, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the formation of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This program includes $16 billion worth of relief in direct support to farmers and ranchers. Many people have lost their jobs due to quarantine requirements and economic slowdown. These people do not have significant savings, while currencies have lost value 

Importation and Prices

Imported products have become pricey for many consumers during this pandemic. This has definitely increased demand for fresh produce, which includes berries, nuts, and even vegetables. Prices aren’t just going up on imported goods, however. Low oil prices are an additional problem for exporting countries, which ship large volumes of produce to oil-rich economies. Changing prices are both good and bad. Consumers get to enjoy low-cost fuel, but there aren’t many places to go. Industries like grocery stores are booming, but the overall economy is suffering.

There is no doubt that the coronavirus is also affecting the shipping and exportation of fruits and dried nuts. Shipping and exportation have slowed down in many regions around the world. Simply getting products where they need to be is a great challenge in this current environment. 

Food insecurity is a large issue as well. The coronavirus has pushed millions of people into food insecurity as supply chains dwindle. Inability to find jobs is also contributing. On April 21, the United Nations reported due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people facing severe food insecurity worldwide could double. This would bring the number to 265 million people. In the same week, in the States, job losses rose to 26 million, pushing more people into food insecurity. 

Nutrition Tips for Eating During the COVID-19 Crisis 

how covid-19 is affecting food

It can be tough to stay on track during a crisis, but with a healthy mix of foods found in a balanced diet, you can stay on track during social distancing. 

Make sure you get enough fiber in your diet, which contributes to a healthy digestive system, and could help you keep off those quarantine pounds by keeping you fuller longer. You can good sources of fiber in almonds, prunes, pistachios, and peanut. Nut butter can also be a great addition during this time, but make sure it does not contain added sugars or tons of salt. 

With the kids home and not at school during this time, it’s essential to keep them on a regular, healthy snacking routine. Try to remember some of these tips. 

  • Most kids need no more than two snacks per day.
  • Promote healthy snacks such as nuts, fruit, low-fat dairy, and vegetables. 
  • It is best to encourage water as the beverage of choice throughout the day. 

Key Nutrients

Experts agree that getting certain nutrients in your diet can help boost your spirits and health.  One expert states that as there is a connection between the brain and the gut. It’s vital to get plenty of prebiotics and probiotics to keep your gut healthy. They also point out that bacteria ferment prebiotics in the colon, which can lead to the production of short fatty acid chains. These have indirect and direct health benefits on the entire body. 

It’s also essential to get antioxidants and polyphenols when in quarantine (or any time). These not only reduce inflammation in the body but also play help support the overall wellbeing of the body. Experts say that some have even been shown to support gut health in their own prebiotic activity. Making sure to take care of your gut is important. 

Magnesium is Important

Magnesium is often referred to as the calming mineral. It is crucial to get this mineral in quarantine because it assists with the conversion of 5 hydroxytryptophans into serotonin, one of the forms you find tryptophan in within the body. In contrast, serotonin gets produced in the body. 

Many people these days are unknowingly deficient in magnesium, which has the potential to negatively affect your ability to boost your mood naturally through increased serotonin production.​ For this reason, ensuring that you consume adequate dietary sources of magnesium is essential to promoting a positive attitude and outlook. 

Key food sources of magnesium include whole-grains such as oats and wheat-bran, broccoli, raspberries, nuts and seeds, and natural nut or seed butter.  

When you are stuck at home during quarantine and cannot continue to purchase fresh, dark fruits and vegetables, there are other ways to get those nutrients that you need. You can get Vitamin E and selenium from nuts and seeds like sunflower seeds, almonds, and brazil nuts. Choose healthy fats like avocado and extra virgin olive oil. When you cannot purchase fresh, dark fruits and vegetables, try to buy them frozen. Or, save whatever you can from your fresh supply, freeze it, and later it to your smoothies and soups.

Buying in bulk

People buy their food in bulk for many reasons. Some say they care about the environment and want to eliminate the need for single-use plastic and other one-use packaging. Others simply want to save money. It’s been a popular option this year with the COVID-19 crisis. However, it was also a popular method of stocking up well before this year. In 2019, the bulk food ingredient market was valued at $424.6 billion. By 2025, experts think it will reach $524.9 billion.  While Covid-19 affects the food system, it’s a great time to stock up on nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and other non-perishable items in bulk if you can. 

While it depends on the items, generally speaking, buying in bulk is considered by consumers and experts alike to be cheaper. Buying in bulk, for the most part, comes without the excess packaging and branding that companies charge for in a lot of items on the shelf at grocery stores. Consumers will, for the most part, usually save money per unit, which adds up to real savings over time. Buying in bulk means shoppers pay for nothing but the product they are interested in purchasing. 

Buying in bulk means that shoppers are buying exactly what they need, and are therefore reducing food waste. They can reduce the amount of half-used products sitting in the cupboard. As a result, people are only using the freshest ingredients in their pantries. Popular bulk food stores have a high stock turnover, which means new products are almost always available. Stock is temperature-controlled, so the stock is kept at its optimal temperature.

A good choice for the environment

Buying in bulk is also remarkable for the environment. Manufacturing materials around use trees from forests, dump contaminated water into streams and use massive amounts of energy. This results in rising levels of CO2 emissions. Reducing or eliminating plastic packaging can have a significant impact on the environment. Bulk companies tend to be passionate about the freshest products to their customers. These items are all more sustainable, healthy, clean, and best for the environment. 

When you buy from in bulk, you can eliminate the need for packaging and single-use plastic. America represents just 4% of the world’s population, but it produces a whopping 12% of global municipal solid waste. Americans only recycle 35% of their waste. When you make the switch to buying in bulk, it can have a significant impact on weekly waste reduction and encourage a mindful shopping habit. 

During tricky times like these, making healthy and mindful choices is important. Try swapping plastic bags at the grocery store for reusable jars or containers at a bulk food store. You can also order from Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit, which offers the highest quality nuts and dried fruit available. We are here to support all of your needs during this hard time and are here for any questions and concerns you may have. 

Bottom Line  

Please take care of yourself, eat right, and practice self-care during this uncertain time. Make sure you are getting the vitamins and minerals your body craves. You can do so by creating delicious meals at home, and by snacking on the healthy and tasty snacks. Farmers and suppliers will face difficulties. However, we know the agriculture business in a tough one and will recover.