When food supply chains matter most


Posted by Rohan Samarajiva on April 22, 2020  /  0 Comments

LIRNEasia has been studying food supply chains almost from inception. Our then Consultant Lead Economist Harsha de Silva had been trying to fix problems in the Dambulla DEC, the country’s largest agri wholesale market from even before that. So we were understandably unhappy when the government shut down the wholesale markets in the context of the COVID-19 response. First thoughts were in this op ed.

Given the difficulties many potential users have had in understanding the difficulties of scaling up the customer facing side of e commerce it should come as no surprise that there is even greater ignorance about the far end of the supply chains.

For a chicken to be delivered to a customer by a retailer an enormously complex set of transactions over a period of months is required. If any parts of the supply chain break, the repercussions will work their way through the chain and impact the customer immediately or in a few weeks or months.

More will be written about this, but just for a taste, let me make a prediction. There will be shortages and/or price spikes in chicken and eggs in a few months. Disruptions in the supply chain such as difficulties in obtaining feed have caused hatchery operators to sell eggs that were intended for breeding purposes. There may be eggs in the market today, but there will be less chicken and eggs tomorrow.

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