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B.C. floods reveal fragile food supply chains — 4 ways to manage the crisis now and in the future

B.C. floods reveal fragile food supply chains — 4 ways to manage the crisis now and in the future

A motorboat travels along a highway flooded with brown water past an abandoned transport truck.

The COVID-19 pandemic taught the world that supply chains are fragile and susceptible to disruptions. Panic-buying, and product hoarding are two examples. like the irrational run on toilet paper in the early stages of pandemicCanadian consumers are being reminded of this lesson again after recent extreme weather events in British Columbia.

Heavy rainfall caused severe flooding, mudslides and damage to major highways, railways and access to Vancouver port.




Continue reading:
How an ‘atmospheric river’ drenched British Columbia and led to floods and mudslides


The flooding could cause disruptions to supply chains put consumers in panic-buying mode again,It has been almost two years since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emotional trauma caused early by the pandemic by product shortages is still fresh. A new surge in demand could further stress already stressed food supply chains. ongoing global supply chain disruptions.

Good newsis beginning to emerge on the decongestion in ports, suggesting that the end of the global supply chain crisis is near. But the B.C. The B.C. floods delayed some domestic supplies recovery as the Vancouver port is isolated from the rest.

Is this a sign that a food shortage is imminent?

We are researchers in food security and supply chain management. We outline the key steps producers, policy-makers, and consumers must take to manage supply chains disruptions and ensure continued access to food after the B.C. floods.

A motorboat travels along a highway flooded with brown water past an abandoned transport truck.
A boat travels along Trans-Canada Highway passing an abandoned transport trailer in a flood area of Abbotsford (B.C.).
THE CANADIAN NEWS/Darryl Dyck

Food security is at risk from panic-buying

Food supply chains are designed based on patterns of regular demand. Producing is often planned months in advance and commodities travel a long way before reaching their destination. Unplanned changes and delays can have a significant impact on a long chain of interconnected events.

Adverse road conditions are one of the most significant reasons for delays in food supply chains. If there are disruptions to the usual delivery routes, delays or minor shortages are to be expected. These pressures can be eased slowly and steadily if the roads are clear.

An overpass goes over a flooded highway.
Pictured is an overpass crossing a flooded Highway 1 near Chilliwack (B.C.).
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Panic buying is the most dangerous thing in the short-term. Panic buying is a way to fear a shortage in supply. people irrationally buy more than they can consumeIn a reasonable amount of time and before food expiry dates. Unprecedented surges in demand could even cause disruptions to fully functioning supply chains.

The problem is usually not a supply problem but an excess demand problem. The fear of shortages is a self-fulfilling prophecy that results from hoarding.

Excessive purchases can lead to increased food waste. These disruptions can be more severe for low-income individuals or those with a lower income. with reduced mobility. Demand surges can also cause a vicious cycle in which backlogs and delays are created by panic spreading to retailers and their suppliers, thereby hindering the recovery of supply chain crises.

Four ways to manage supply chain disruptions

Both the pandemics and the B.C. Floods and the pandemic remind us to be calm and prepared for any disruption.
Here are four important steps to follow:

1. More responsible media coverage:Avoid panic-inducing media coverage like doomsday images showing empty grocery store shelves. It is important to stop panic-buying immediately and not after the damage has been done. Media should also report on reliable and effective retail policies. temporarily capping the number of items per householdTo prevent speculative hoarding of food markets.

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An empty refrigerated section of a grocery story.
Media should avoid posting photos like this as they can encourage panic-buying.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

2. Governments should provide transparent and timely updates:Next, it is important to communicate timely information to all parties in the supply chain. Information about product availability, pricing and delivery lead times, as well as disruption recovery plans, can be extremely helpful. in managing expectations. The public can be kept informed about the current situation, any possible shortages, their duration, and the government’s plans to address them. This will reduce panic-inducing media coverage as well as social media posts.

3. Distributed risks: Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen the risks from putting all of our eggs in one basket. A good example is the shortage of microchips. Even if one tiny component cannot be produced due to the disruptions, the whole supply chain comes to a halt. Supply chains are only as strong as the weakest links. The next step for policy-makers and businesses is to spread the word and reduce the risk. Diversifying suppliers (preferably from different geographic regions), strengthening transportation networks, creating alternate delivery routes and using other modes of transport are some options.

4. Preparedness protocols for emergencies: Climate-induced weather events are expected to be more frequent in the years to come. Supply chains are also vulnerable to financial risk, strikes, accidents, and other dangers. Reactive emergency relief efforts can cause significant delays in recovery. We cannot afford to wait for the next disaster to strike. Companies and local governments should instead prepare for future supply chain risks through multiple recovery plans.

There’s an entire body of literature dedicated to developing disaster and emergency plans to minimize supply chain disruptions prior to calamitous events — namely, humanitarian logisticsThis includes organizing the delivery of supplies and warehousing to affected areas and their inhabitants in times of emergency or natural disasters.

The public and private sector can also immensely benefit by collaborating with supply chain management experts so that the next time we face any type of supply chain disruption, no one needs to fear they’ll run out of food to feed their families.

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