Tuesday, March 17, 2020

CoViD-19 Experiencing shortages? Count On Fresh Produce

This is definitely not usually in the scope of this site, but I know my own family would like to continue eating veggies and salads beyond this week, and I've definitely seen people suggesting that they couldn't find even kitchen staples like potatoes and onions, let alone fruit and veggies. Keep in mind, all of the guidelines for California regarding gatherings, sheltering-in-place, and #socialdistancing all came down rapidly in a matter of days, so people certainly stocked up and cleared shelves. But as this becomes our new normal, supplies and distribution are already bouncing back, so I thought I'd share this important message from SGS Produce. If you're in San Diego, we just took a walk to North Park Produce and they are very well stocked in pretty much all fruits and vegetables (even loose potatoes). They also have large bags of white rice, fresh tortillas, fresh bolillos, a full service meat counter, and a hot food/takeout section with things like shawarma and gyro by the pound, rotisserie chickens, lamb shanks, and beef kabob. At checkout, I had no wait.
Press release is after the jump.

The produce distribution in California is guaranteed throughout Coronavirus crises
Los Angeles, March 17: The potential coronavirus quarantine and panic buying shortages won’t stop produce distribution in Southern California, according to the President of SGS Produce Carole Shandler.   
SGS Produce is one of the founders of food distribution on the West Coast, operating since 1907 and guaranteeing food supply through two world wars, major natural disasters and 9/11. http://www.sgsproduce.com
The American produce industry is resilient and very well prepared to face such emergencies, and the USDA is being “very helpful and working fast to inspect containers and release all the supply lines coming from the US and abroad”, says Carole.  
While some food distributors who specialize in schools and restaurants chains are facing lower demand due to shutdowns, and exports to Asia following the same path, local grocery retailers have immediate supply of produce available, particularly those with a shorter shelf-life such as fruits and vegetables. SGS is experiencing a low stock of just dry rice and beans and potatoes, forecasted to be back to normal levels in the next couple of days.

Produce distribution is guaranteed to reach all the regular demographic, including the low-income areas who depend on a more affordable supplying.
Besides maintaining short and long-term supply of produce in California, SGS’s President says that all their employees are working with a touching sense of duty, as well as the truck drivers and the office team. “It is important right now that people have access to the food they are familiar with, in order to keep the emotional and physical comfort. That includes the ethnic varieties, which we are prepared to supply as well.”  At this point, Carole does not report any concerns with labor shortage in the industry.  
SGS encourages retailers to campaign on clear information about how to sanitize your produce before consuming it, as well as the importance of not excluding fresh fruit and vegetables of the daily diet in order to maintain a healthy immune system. “This is a time to work hard against consumer misconceptions and confusion”  
Many industry members report that the COVID19 crisis has increased their sales, seeing the negative effects on travel and event cancellations, as well as on extra contingency meetings.  
SGS is working hard with partners in the produce industry to keep the regular prices in times of uncertain demand, as well as to offer the best and fastest food distribution for the population of California. 

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