The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially disruptive to the food & beverage industry, causing impacts that ranged from shutting down meat factories to major consumer demand swings that caused shortages of certain products and oversupply of others.
It also resulted in higher operating costs for many suppliers — and has many thinking about their preparedness for the next pandemic even as we’re still making our way through the current one.
A new AIB International study of 325 senior executives at leading North American food & beverage manufacturing companies, retailers, distributors and other supply chain partners found that 30% expected another global pandemic within the next four years and 50% expected one in the next decade. Meanwhile, 78% said they are actively preparing for the next global pandemic.
Other key findings from AIB’s study included:
- 61% of executives said their company didn’t have an adequate plan in place to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic when it began.
- Respondents from companies with revenue of less than $250 million felt less prepared than larger companies.
- 76% of companies with annual revenue of at least $1 billion reported an increase in operating costs, compared to 62% of companies overall.
- 19% of companies saw an increase in operating costs and a decrease in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, while another 43% saw increased operating costs but no revenue decline.
Leadership from companies with higher annual revenues and those in food processing/manufacturing were more likely to believe another global pandemic will happen within the next four years.
The survey illustrated the level of pandemic unpreparedness felt throughout the food & beverage industry. But one would think that as these companies make their way through the remainder of COVID-19, they’ll continue to make action plans for a future pandemic — because history has shown that it’s not a matter of if another pandemic will occur, but a matter of when.