William Masters, writing for econofact.org
Impacts of COVID-19 on the food sector are among its most visible and important economic consequences.
The effects are driven by a sudden shift to food at home due to social distancing measures, as well as by risks of food shortage resulting from outbreaks at packing plants and among farmworkers as well as restrictions on cross-border travel and trade. For the main agricultural commodities, sharply lower demand for livestock products has outpaced any constraints on supply, leading to steep declines in commodity prices. For many Americans, the loss of school food and other meal assistance programs has multiplied the consequences of falling incomes, with dire consequences especially for children and the elderly. To monitor impacts on consumption, we need real-time monitoring of retail prices by food group for early detection of price spikes from supply-chain disruption as well as price declines from lack of demand.