Fabiola Negron

Director of Food Safety

How COVID-19 is affecting the food industry

May 18, 2020

Registrar Corp recognizes that there are many concerns and questions about how COVID is affecting the food industry.  In this article we will discuss how the pandemic is affecting food safety and supply.

COVID-19 Is Not a Food Borne Illness

One of the top concerns surrounding the food industry during COVID-19 has been whether the virus can spread through food.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that, “currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.”

Food Products are in High Demand

During the pandemic, the demand for certain food items is higher than ever. Retailers across the United States are selling out of items such as beans, eggs, and rice. Even alcohol is at an increased demand. Additionally, canned goods and packaged foods like noodles are also selling larger quantities due to their long shelf lives and their status as staples in many dishes. As a result, brands like General Mills and Campbell Soup reported more than a 60 percent increase in food sales over a four week period.

“Almost all our plants are running at capacity,” John Church, General Mills’ chief supply chain officer, said in an interview with New York Times. Despite this, retailers struggle to keep canned goods on their selves and many have set purchasing limits.  Due to the high demand, the need for continued importation of food is likely to remain high as well.  Exporters of shelf stable canned goods seeking to help supply the demand must note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires manufacturers to obtain a Food Canning Establishment (FCE) registration to market goods in the United States.

Products that are viewed as healthy are also seeing an increase in demand. The price of avocados has continued to rise with the increased demand for them. In general, the US is seeing a large amount of produce sales. This increase is likely the result of consumers aiming to improve their immune systems in light of the virus.

Not all food products are seeing this increase in demand; luxury food sales have been on the decline. Spending trends have shown that as people are working less because of COVID-19, they are also spending less and limiting purchases to necessities. One industry expert pointed out that in-store shoppers are “getting in and out quickly buying staples such as pasta, beans, flour, rice, bottled sauces, jarred vegetables, and tinned seafood. For the most part, impulse purchases are dead.” When things return to normal, consumers will likely return to exploring and impulse buying. When the COVID-19 pandemic slows, more consumers may revisit purchasing luxury and specialty foods, especially during the holiday season.

Supply Chains Are Expanding

COVID-19 has pushed some retailers to source from additional food suppliers for high demand food items as their existing suppliers find challenges in meeting consumer demands.  When asked about her experience with supply chain issues, the Vice President for a California market chain stated“… in the beginning we did have a couple of issues with staple items like pasta and beans but we moved through that shortage quickly and were able to find different sources for those items.” Now could be an excellent time to enter new markets if you manufacture any of these high demand items.

The US meat packing industry in particular is struggling to keep production lines running with recent closures of large facilities. This creates an opportunity for additional meat imports into the US market.

Long Term Effects of COVID-19 on the Food Industry

Experts are uncertain what the future holds but suggest that, “some of these trends could be here to stay. Now that some people have gone back to packaged foods, they may be surprised to see the quality improvements for these products and keep buying them even in the post-quarantine world. Cooking more at home might also continue well after the lockdowns end.”

In spite of this pandemic, people must eat, and there is plenty of opportunity in the U.S. supply chain for food manufacturers. It is important for facilities to keep their FDA registration valid and up to date. Even if your shipments are currently slowed, you should be prepared for the inevitable bounce-back as U.S. inventories need to be replenished.

Though other FDA-regulated industries have seen change in regulation during COVID, FDA is regulating food the same. Facilities still need to ensure that they are registered and properly labeling their products. Registrar Corp is open and available to help you register with the FDA during these uncertain times. Let Registrar Corp’s trained experts guide you through the registration process by contacting us today. Call us at  +1-757-224-0177 or send an email to


Fabiola Negron

Director of Food Safety

Widely respected in the Food Safety industry, Fabiola provides insightful education to food and beverage companies worldwide on U.S. FDA regulations resulting from the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011. Her expertise in creating and reviewing Food Safety plans, helping U.S. importers comply with Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) regulations, and leading our Food Safety team have helped hundreds of companies comply with FDA food and beverage requirements.

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