By J. Harness
The blizzard of 2011, as the latest winter storm is being called, will take its toll on the foodservice industry. With an alarming number of more than 30 states receiving harsh winter weather and some severe conditions, the entire food chain is being affected by this storm. As is the trend with all major weather events, prices will fluctuate and product demand will rise for a time.
To get a good picture of the breaks in the food chain caused by the blizzard conditions, one only needs to look at a few areas of concern. From the earth-grown products and livestock to deliveries of goods and advertising, FoodChannelPRO is bringing you a glimpse of the damage winter weather has brought.
Several states hit by this historic storm are vital to the industry because of farming. With Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, among others, receiving a whollop from the storm, much of the grain and agricultural produce in those farm states has been harmed, including winter wheat crops.
Cattle are not faring much better in those states, either. The Oklahoma Department of Agricultural Food and Forestry warned the cattle in that state can suffer because of dangerously low temperatures.
Both Cargill and Tyson Foods were forced to close some plants and slow production in others. Several states in the path of the storm house the plants that either shut down or suspended processing, including Illinois, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Indiana. The suspensions and closures affect the production of several food products, such as poultry, pork and beef.
Truck drivers are travelling treacherous road conditions to deliver goods – that is, if they haul any loads at all. With major interstates partially shut down, deliveries have to wait in many cases, and were slow-going in others. Westbound lanes of Interstate 44 are closed between Springfield, Mo., and Oklahoma Tuesday and a portion of Interstate 70 had to be shut down.
A direct line between advertisers and consumers has also been breached by the winter weather in Oklahoma. For the first time in history, Tulsa World did not print an edition of its newspaper. The publisher said the decision was made with employee safety in mind, but also because many subscribers could not even find the Tuesday editions that were delivered because they were hidden under all of the snow.
The impact of this blizzard on foodservice is as widespread as the storm. Everyone in the industry will be affected in some way – from the farmers and truck drivers to the operators and consumers. As always, FoodChannelPRO is keeping an eye on the issues and forces impacting foodservice.