Most cold chain businesses say that taking extra measures to protect the workforce is their No. 1 issue (see chart), according to the Global Cold Chain Alliance's survey studying the ripple effects of COVID-19. Other key findings include:
- Common challenges. More than 50% of respondents say that supply chain disruptions, such as keeping up with demand surges, slowdowns in food service, and manufacturing issues, are the most common challenges they face.
- Responses. The top COVID-19 response was to protect employees, through staggering shifts, social distancing, and remote working, followed by maintaining business continuity and workforce morale.
- Impact on revenue. Comparing actual Q1/Q2 revenue versus expected Q1/Q2 revenue, 54% of respondents report some type of decrease, 11% report no change, and 35% report an increase. Respondents say the next six months may look similar to the past few months.
- Increased costs. About 80% of respondents predict an increase in costs, with the most common uptick being a 1% to 5% increase.
- Government priorities. Access to personal protective equipment and cleaning are the top priorities respondents want governments to focus on, followed by financial support for employees and employers.
- Working from home. Measures taken to reduce person-to-person contact caused operational changes across the cold chain. Work-from-home rates went from 4.5% of the workforce to 19.8% during the pandemic, and they expect about 10.6% to continue to work remotely. This could lead to an increase of 6.1% of the workforce working remotely moving forward.
- Industry-wide trends. About 75% of respondents say that the pandemic will increase the growth rate of e-commerce/direct-to-consumer delivery of chilled and frozen products. Respondents are optimistic that the growth rate of the industry as a whole will be even more significant because of the pandemic. Conversely, 73% of respondents say that global trade opportunities will decrease or remain the same relative to pre-COVID-19 predictions.