PPE Shortage Forecast in Food Manufacturing – Additionally, Worlds Largest Retailer Limits Shoppers…

Two topics of interest to average people appear in headlines.  The first is a report the food manufacturing industry might run out of PPE; the second is a remarkable shift by WalMart for shoppers in a new response to COVID-19.

First, there’s a hyped-up report about the food manufacturing industry possibly facing a shortage of gloves and masks as the nationwide PPE shortage continues. [SEE HERE]

However, there is nothing to be alarmed about in that report.

“I want to assure you that our food supply chain is sound,” Sonny Perdue, the secretary of agriculture, said on March 20.

That, however, could change if the people who make, package and deliver food lack personal protective equipment, or PPE, including face masks and gloves, according to the internal document shared with Yahoo News. (Link)

The three common PPE needs in food processing are: (1) hair restraints; (2) masks, and (3) gloves.  All food manufacturing and processing is regulated and inspected by the FDA and USDA.  The issues of mask and glove shortages are not critical within the industry.  Under the current National Emergency guidelines the USDA can modify regulations to keep the food supply-chain flowing without any health risk at all.

Most industrial food production is automated now.  The human element is not as influential as it once was.  Additionally, due to their purpose, masks can be modified to any facial covering; it is more convenient, but not critical that particular masks be worn.

Gloves are not as important as hand washing, and any industrial food sanitation expert will tell you that gloves are mostly a public relations issue.  Frequent hand washing in food processing is far more valuable, even preferred, to the wearing of gloves.  Hair covering is not in short supply, and if that ever became critical there are alternate options possible with modified interim USDA guidelines.

The U.S. has the greatest food production safety standards in the world.  Food-borne illnesses are rarely an issue of manufacturing or processing.  90 percent of food-borne issues (ecoli) are related to fresh products (lettuce, potatoes, melons, row crops).  The processing issues of botulism, salmonella and listeria are very rare with modern strict protocols. It would be exceptionally rare, almost impossible, for a food-borne pathogen to come from a PPE issue.  Stunningly so.

Nothing related to PPE will interfere with the food safety of Americans; and no shortage of PPE would ever impede the food supply chain.  There are shortages of raw material and supplies that might be a problem; but PPE is not a critical component within industrial food supplies; and all PPE regulations can be modified easily to avoid disruption.

On the second report, it is actually quite remarkable to see WalMart, the world’s largest retailer, modify shopping rules with very deliberate limits on customer density:

WalMart – Starting Saturday, we will limit the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20 percent of a store’s capacity.

To manage this restriction, the associates at a store will mark a queue at a single-entry door (in most cases the Grocery entrance) and direct arriving customers there, where they will be admitted one-by-one and counted. Associates and signage will remind customers of the importance of social distancing while they’re waiting to enter a store – especially before it opens in the morning.

Once a store reaches its capacity, customers will be admitted inside on a “1-out-1-in” basis.  (read more)

The average WalMart Supercenter is 200,000 sq ft.  5 per 1,000/sq ft would mean a limit of 1,000 people at any one time total store.  The average WalMart Neighborhood store is 40,000 sq ft.  That would mean a limit of 200 people at any one time total store.

Big Picture– Most consumers are not aware total food consumption in the U.S. was a 60/40 proposition. Approximately 60% of all food was consumed “outside the home” (or food away from home), and 40% of all food consumed was food “inside the home” (traditional grocery shoppers).

Food ‘outside the home’ included: restaurants, fast-food locales, schools, corporate cafeterias, university lunchrooms, manufacturing cafeterias, hotels, food trucks, park and amusement food sellers and many more.  Many of those venues are not thought about when people evaluate the overall U.S. food delivery system; however, this network was approximately 60 percent of all food consumption on a daily basis.

The ‘food away from home‘ channel has its own supply chain.  Very few restaurants and venues (cited above) purchase food products from retail grocery outlets.   As a result of the coronavirus mitigation effort the ‘food away from home’ channel has been reduced by more than half of daily food delivery operations.  However, people still need to eat.

That means retail food outlets, grocers, are seeing sales increases of 25 to 50 percent, depending on the area.  This, along with some panic shopping, is the reason why supermarkets are overwhelmed and their supply chain is out of stock on many items.

There is enough food capacity in the overall food supply chain, and no-one should worry about the U.S. ever running out of the ability to feed itself.  However, the total food supply chain is based on two channels: food at home and food away from home.

The seismic shift toward ‘food at home‘ is what has caused the shortages, and that supply chain is not likely to recover full service of products again until the ‘food away from home’ sector gets back to normal.   No need to panic, but there will be long-term shortages.

There are going to be category driven empty shelves, and many varieties of items will remain out of stock.  Manufacturers are focusing on the top most-demanded items within their portfolios; they will not restart all varieties of products until production capacity on their top branded items drop to a manageable level.

Toilet paper is two sides of a slightly different product, commercial and consumer channels. Commercial TP demand is down 40% while consumer TP demand is up 40%. The TP you use at home is not the same as the stuff you used at the office, school, restaurant, public restroom etc. Both products manufactured differently; both packaged differently; both manufactured to fit different dispensing equipment.

Consumer (home use) TP sales now up 40% in demand. The industrial, big roll, individually wrapped, less appealing commercial TP not-so-much. That is likely why the lack of toilet tissue has remained for so long…  Similar for paper towels.  Who knew.

Big manufacturing soap and chemical users have also been challenged with the extreme demand for sanitary products. Hand soap, hand sanitizing, personal hygiene and also surface sanitizing products are beyond extreme demand. Here I would place a note of caution… Again, prioritization has to happen.

When given a choice between laundry/dish detergent and personal hygiene products we can expect the manufacturers will prioritize production of the latter first.

This *could* lead to a shortage in laundry and dish soaps. Just keep that in mind if you are seeing some of your favorite brands in those sectors missing.

Think of a massive segment within our economy that was already working near capacity…. now demand has increased 40% overall within that industry…. It’s incredible we have not seen more widespread shortages considering the scale of this increase.

This entry was posted in Coronavirus, Economy, media bias, propaganda, Uncategorized, US dept of agriculture, USA. Bookmark the permalink.

277 Responses to PPE Shortage Forecast in Food Manufacturing – Additionally, Worlds Largest Retailer Limits Shoppers…

  1. TradeBait says:

    Goes to show that just because a company is big or wealthy, it does not mean they have a lick of sense. Can’t stand to go in Walmart anyway. They just gave me all I need to never go in again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lgstarr says:

      I don’t like to go to WarMart because a girl vomited on me there and it left me with a bad impression.


      • MMinLamesa says:

        That’s like saying you got a speeding ticket and don’t like driving anymore.

        I’ve worked at W/M and it’s a good place for people that want to do their job. yeah most of the “food” in there is poison but that’s the same with just about any grocery store. Processed food is to be avoided no matter where you shop.

        The produce, where I worked, is fine and you wouldn’t believe the waste they tolerate so the fresh food is presentable.

        And there’s no sense going into some of the unbelievable crap that customers pull so when you go into a W/M and some one vomits on you, WhyTF are you blaming it on the 100s of hard working Associates?

        Liked by 4 people

        • rebelinme2 says:

          I have avoided large stores in food shopping as much as possible just because of not wanting to contact multitudes.. new baby in the house to protect. But, I have wondered about how the fresh produce in large stores is treated as I would like some fresh fruits and veggies… is it treated differently than fresh foods found in farm stands? Do they treat it with something that keeps it fresh longer ?


    • Mrs.E says:

      I agree.


  2. Paul Vincent Zecchino says:

    Anyone who thinks this medico-police state will end in three weeks needs to rethink it.


  3. efilnikcufecin101 says:

    I call Wal-Mart 3rd world shopping centers now. They used to just be cheap, now they are nasty and cheap…

    Liked by 1 person

    • MelH says:

      Now they are price gouging and not cheap and their delivery fees are outrageous, sometimes twice the cost of the item being delivered. Hand cream I used to buy, just 2 months ago was $20, today was $29.95 and a bit more than $11 to deliver it, so I didn’t buy from Walmart. Amazon is delivering it for free and charging $20. only two months ago charged $29.95. The trick with ordering from Amazon is to check the alternatives for price first, because if you check the Amazon price and go looking elsewhere, you’ll likely find the price went up, when you come back.


  4. Bendix says:

    Maybe we need to start calling Walmart Corporate HQ?
    If I’m not welcome to do my shopping as I see fit in your store now, maybe I won’t bother later on?
    Who do they think they are?
    Lawsuits? Who the hell can afford to go up against Walmart to try to prove they got sick in their store? What lawyer would bother with that?


    • stripmallgrackle says:

      Maybe they need to re-brand with this new marketing strategy. How about CrawlMart?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Used Walmart for years for prescriptions because no matter where you went in the US there was a walmart. My Walmart has no drive-thru for prescriptions so am I now supposed to wait in line and be herded through the aisle arrows just to pick up my scripts??? I think not and will be taking my prescriptions elsewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Deborah @UnTamedInSD says:

    As I was at Walmart today ….. yes there was a taped off area to guide a line, but there was no line and there was NO ONE to make sure there was a line. Enter at will, per usual.

    As I went around the store some had masks on (free will) most did not, No one was wearing gloves…… NO ONE. None of the store employee’s even considered social distancing, everyone was mostly “Normal”…. But Walmart gets the PR and can now say in court “WE had a system in place to keep you safe”. …. insert eye roll here.

    Liked by 6 people

    • If SD means SouthDakota, then low risk, midwest nice still holds…clean hands are still better than nasty gloves, touching everything, and people coughing through their fake masks.

      Here in SoCal they are emptying the jails, trying to shut down the gun stores, and giving the diseased street junkies free hotel rooms. Banditos and normals alike wearing scarves, Harley death head face coverings, and crappy paper and fake N95 china masks(since face coverings are mandatory). ‘Street Entrepreneurs” just last week, have been recruited for Line enforcement(Inventory control-ha ha-its a ticket for any theft under $950) in the Socialst State of Mexifornizstan.

      What could go wrong?

      Liked by 3 people

      • Deborah @UnTamedInSD says:

        SD is south dakota but I actually live in ND full time and our SD home is now a summer home away from home… so i’m just a dakota gal now ha ha. – it is mild here compared to the libtardvilles along the coast , but what drives me crazy here is how fast the conservatives have turned libtard and calling for fascism over this thing… yikes!


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