Coronavirus and food: no shortage coming, ensures a researcher

Canada will be the last country to run out of food, according to Sylvain Charlebois, a well-known analyst in the Canadian agrifood sector.

In a note released Thursday, the senior director of the Agri-Food Analytical Sciences Laboratory at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia writes that empty shelves have been noticed in food markets for the past few days by people who have rushed to stores may make them think that a serious shortage is about to break out.

Sylvain Charlebois explained that the Canadian supply system is based on the model called just enough, just in time. In his view, logistics and warehousing capacity across the chain has never been more muscular; he recalls that the entire Canadian territory is served by distributors who rely on the perfect coordination of all the players within the chain.

At the start of the week, the Quebec Food Retailers Association (ADA) asked consumers to be patient and understanding, assuring them of the upcoming availability of their products.

Prices that could fluctuate a little

When it comes to food prices, Canadians don't have to worry either, according to researcher Charlebois. He does not anticipate that the recent store rush will prompt retailers to subtly raise prices in order to increase profits. In the era of social networks where, the abusive behavior of a company can be captured by a photo and shared millions of times, it would be inappropriate, according to him, to extort consumers, especially in these times.

Sylvain Charlebois pointed out that the recent sharp drop in the price of crude oil on world markets has made it possible to reduce costs in food distribution. On the other hand, he pointed out that the fall in the value of the Canadian dollar was already being felt for the purchase of certain products, notably fresh fruits and vegetables.

On the currency market, the Canadian dollar continued to slide on Wednesday, losing 2.2% trading at the average price of 68.98 cents US, compared to its average price of 70.55 cents US the previous day.

Professor Charlebois also fears that an explosion of COVID-19 cases in the United States could prompt the American authorities to completely close their border with Canada. He recalls that in winter and spring, about 40% of everything Canadians consume, retail or food, comes from the United States or has transited through the United States.

The Government of Canada's decision to exclude Americans from entry bans on Wednesday as of Wednesday was the right one, according to the researcher, who believes that Ottawa was thus able to negotiate in good faith the passage of agri-food products through both directions.

Source : Radio Canada

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