Coronavirus: Grocery Stores Will Restock, Amid Challenges; Opportunity in Food Delivery

Grocery store shelf empty (Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty)
Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty

LOS ANGELES, California — Local grocery store shelves sat bare at the end of a weekend of aggressive buying by consumers stocking up for long stays at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Sources in the food industry told Breitbart News that the supply chain should respond well, though there may be a few bottlenecks, and delays in individual products.

One California produce farmer told Breitbart News that customers have been “buying like crazy,” and that he had sold “two months’ supply in one week.” He said he expected farms to keep producing.

Local reservoirs are well-supplied, especially after several days of rain — a good sign in a state where dry years mean entire farms can go offline. It is also possible that grocery shelves will stay full once the initial wave of buying has passed.

One industry executive was also optimistic, but did not want to be quoted: he was in self-imposed quarantine.

That illustrates a potential problem in the food industry, as in others: how to keep the workforce on the job — when local authorities are banning gatherings, school closings are forcing parents to stay home, and incidental contact with possible coronavirus victims could take employees out of commission.

Restaurants still have enough food; their problem is a lack of customers after a sudden, sharp drop in demand.

“A lot of us are sitting on [food] inventory right now,” one restaurant owner told Breitbart News. However, he said, there was speculation that distributors might not purchase new food stocks, given the downturn in the industry, and a possible credit crunch.

Amidst the crisis, there may be new opportunities — for delivery services.

On Sunday night, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that restaurants would only be allowed to supply food through takeout and delivery, starting Tuesday. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took similar action.

That new circumstance is expanding market for companies like Postmates and DoorDash. Once seen as a convenience, or a nuisance, now delivery companies may become a necessity.

As long as there are enough drivers, and they remain healthy, and food preparation facilities can steer clear of coronavirus, the answer to any lingering grocery store woes may be outsourcing family meals.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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