In front of a small group of food industry executives, political and agricultural leaders, and members of the media, Vice President Mike Pence commended the industry for its extraordinary efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, “You’ve done an incredible job keeping food on the table in the midst of a national crisis. And I think it may turn out to be your finest hour at a time when an industry stepped up and met the moment.”
While visiting Iowa this month to meet with different communities impacted by COVID-19, the vice president hosted a roundtable at Hy-Vee, Inc. that discussed securing the nation’s food supply chain. Randy Edeker, chief executive officer of Hy-Vee, Inc., along with Rodney McMullen, chief executive officer of The Kroger Co., highlighted several efforts food retailers have made around supply chain collaboration, their commitment to public health, and how learnings the industry has gained from navigating this national crisis sparked innovations that will forever-change the food industry.
Edeker said it best during the Vice President’s food industry panel, “There’s an old saying about ‘from hardship and crisis can come great innovation,’ and one of the things that I've seen across the supply chain [in terms of innovation] is great collaboration.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses like restaurants and hotels across the country to close, which left America’s farmers without buyers for their crops. Our members saw this gap in the supply chain and stepped up to the plate to help distribute and process surplus commodities to communities that needed it the most. The industry also figured out how to reroute the supply stream to bring foodservice from restaurants into their stores.
This national crisis has created unprecedented operating conditions for the food industry. FMI members have been working around the clock to ensure food and essential products are available, store shelves are stocked, facilities are clean and sanitized, and customers are practicing social distancing.
As Edeker said in his closing remarks, “The number of learnings that we've had within our companies of things that found new efficiencies, new ways of doing things will last, and be here now and forever.”