By: Doug Baker, Vice President, Industry Relations, FMI
FMI recently joined Deloitte for a panel discussion (moderated by the American Logistics Aid Network) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's 10th annual Building Resilience Through Private-Public Partnerships Conference. The conversation included substantive dialogue on grocery and retail supply lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With challenges such as demand spikes, supply disruptions, labor shortages and a changing policy landscape, retailers had to adjusted accordingly – not only for the good of the company, but for the community. Here are some of the lessons learned and best practices discussed:
Partnerships Across Supply Chains
As demand spiked early during the pandemic, FMI partnered with the International Food Distributors Association to relocate product, equipment, labor and warehouse space. Now known as the Food Industry Exchange, this online resource allows producers, distributors and retailers to connect and share offers and needs across food sectors.
Resources for Essential Employees
With local ordinances making it difficult for essential classified employees to commute to work. FMI developed a letter that companies could give to associates to keep in their vehicles that allowed them to be identified as an essential worker.
Supply Chain Strategy Shifts
Industry changes in inventory strategies, automation, visibility, ecommerce fulfillment and delivery methods helped the industry remain resilient and serve communities. Manufacturers pivoted by building additional efficiencies and outputs into their manufacturing processes by reducing SKU count to increase manufacturing output; thereby adding new lines to bolster output and provide additional forward warehousing to hold more finished inventory.
Partnering in a Crisis
The federal, state and local public sector coordination is just as important as the public and private relationship. Prepping for mass feeding while working closely with smaller local farmers to get more food into the systems is essential.
Ongoing discussions like this help ensure future resilience of our food supply chain as we work together to face whatever comes next.