COVID-19 is impacting food distribution, consumer buying patterns


COVID-19 is impacting food distribution, consumer buying patterns

The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting food distribution and marketing and changing consumer buying patterns.

Purdue University’s Jayson Lusk says consumers initially rushed to grocery stores to stock up on items, but that seems to be subsiding.  

“I think we’ve moved a little bit beyond that stocking up phase and you can see prices really starting to come back down,” he says. “Hopefully it’s not a new normal but it’s at least an equilibrium for the next couple of weeks until we can get food away from home changed.”

Lusk says although the US is moving more through grocery stores, it’s not enough to offset losses in the food-away-from-home market. He says reduced consumer incomes will also impact buying decisions.

“When we have lower incomes that tends to have an effect on meat demand- meat demand seems to be pretty income-sensitive,” he says. “The other one is food away from home. We’re not likely to eat out as much just simply because our incomes may not support it.”  

Lusk says meat processing plant capacity is also a concern.

“Hopefully we can keep the plants up and running- they’ve already been implementing strategies to try to keep their workers safe, but I think if you start to get multiple plants closing at the same time it puts a strain on the system,” he says.  

Lusk joined Purdue University Ag Economists Jim Mintert and Michael Langemeier during a Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture webinar today.

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