De-globalization in food supply?

Food Institute is reporting that 65% of US food manufacturers (and a higher percentage in Canada) are more likely to source products from local suppliers.

Produce is the main driver as local producers of vegetables have become more organized and sophisticated in the coordinating with supply chains.

There are many forces at work in this dynamic:

  • Restraint of the movement in goods across international borders due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • Food nationalism. The movement to tariffs and protectionism had already started and the pandemic threatens to accelerate the trend.  This is a subset of anti-globalization policies in many countries.
  • Cost advantages from cheap labor and containerization may be reaching a point of diminishing returns.
  • In the case of Canada, at to some extent the US, confidence in production from Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) – greenhouses – means less dependence on imported produce.
  • Labor force uncertainty due to strong COVID outbreaks in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. In addition to the plight of these workers, illnesses cause decrease in productions.
  • Finally the local movement generally, which has been more of a trend trend in higher end grocery and restaurants, may be moving down the food chain (no pun intended).

The article also states that there is  low level of concern from manufacturers about loss of variety.  Much of the incredible diversity in our cuisine choices have come from acquisition and availability of foods from around the world.  A reduction in global supply may change that.

Leave a Reply