Americans have rapidly changed the ways they buy, cook and eat food in just four months, leaving everyone from farmers to restaurants unable to match their pivot.
U.S. consumers, whose previous food preferences were stable enough that farmers could often make reliable planting decisions years in advance, have shifted their habits at a torrential pace during the coronavirus pandemic. That includes cooking more at home, buying more organic food, purchasing in bulk, forgoing brand-name treats and eating smaller meals due to fewer trips to restaurants with their often oversized portions.
Even one of those changes by itself could throw a wrench in the global food supply chain. Add all five together, and some suppliers are finding they can’t adapt fast enough to keep pace with all the changing consumer demands. Farmers like Jack Vessey, a lettuce grower in California, have been forced to destroy crops after restaurant demand dried up, while Oreo-maker Mondelez International Inc. is cutting its product offerings by 25% to simplify logistics.
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