Beer, milk, and produce: All the food that’s getting dumped during the pandemic

  • The coronavirus pandemic has massively disrupted supply chains for many consumer goods.
  • In many cases, this has meant that farmers and other producers of consumable items have had to ditch excess inventory.
  • Milk, vegetables, and beer are among the products being destroyed by their producers.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on food supply chains.

Even as major grocery chains struggle to keep staples in stock, supply-chain issues mean that farmers across the country have been forced to destroy excess stock that would usually go to restaurants, hotels, schools, and theme parks.

Some farmers have said they are planning to donate inventory to food banks. Southeastern grocer Publix announced last week it would buy milk and produce from farmers and donate it to Feeding America food banks.

Here are the products that have faced issues during the coronavirus outbreak so far:


Milk

Dairy farmers across the US have had to dump thousands of gallons of milk due to disruptions in the supply chain.

“Mass closures of restaurants and schools have forced a sudden shift from those wholesale food-service markets to retail grocery stores, creating logistical and packaging nightmares for plants processing milk, butter and cheese,” Reuters’ P.J. Huffstutter reported.


Berries

Driscoll’s president Soren Bjorn told Business Insider’s Irene Jiang earlier this month that the company would have to let 10-15% of its berry crop “end up in the ditch” if it could not get government funding to donate it to food banks. Berries typically hit peak production in May.

“That could be berries that would not get picked and never make it to the market,” Bjorn said. “We think that by far, the best thing that could happen is that that product makes its way to the food banks. And that will require some financial assistance from the government.”


Eggs

The New York Times reported that chicken processor Sanderson Farms has had to destroy 750,000 unhatched eggs weekly as its usual restaurant supply chain has been disrupted. Those destroyed eggs get sent to a plant where they are turned into pet food.


Chickens

Likewise, Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. announced that a lack of employees would mean that two million live chickens on farms in Delaware and Maryland would have to be killed. The chickens would be “depopulated” with humane methods accepted by the American Veterinary Medical Association and government guidelines.

Meat plants across the US are dealing with serious staffing issues as facilities deal with coronavirus outbreaks.


Onions

The closure of restaurants around the country has impacted certain crops in different ways.

The New York Times reported that an onion farmer in Idaho has had to bury one million pounds of onions in a large ditch.

“People don’t make onion rings at home,” the farmer, whose largest customer is the restaurant industry, told the Times.


Pigs

With a loss of restaurant and international buyers and the shuttering of some pork packaging plants, hog farmers are facing a glut.

These farmers may have to consider euthanizing baby pigs, Business Insider’s Kate Taylor reported.

“The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said … that farmers will lose almost $US37 per hog and almost $US5 billion collectively for every hog marketed for the rest of 2020, citing economists Dr. Dermot Hayes and Dr. Steve Meyer. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the NPPC said analysts predicted farmers would earn roughly $US10 per hog,” Taylor wrote.


Tomatoes, green beans, cabbage, and other produce

Farmers in the Southeast have plowed over crops of tomatoes, cabbage, green beans, zucchini and other produce that are typically harvested this time of year.

Many have been left to rot in the fields.


Beer

Distributed draft beer sales have taken a dramatic hit amid the coronavirus. Taprooms and breweries may have to dump unconsumed beer that has gotten past its best-buy date as on-site visits have been prohibited.

“We’re looking at a lot of kegs in my distributor’s warehouse that are getting to that point where we have to look at options, and the top option is to dump it all,” Jamie Tenny, co-owner of Coast Brewing Company in North Charleston, South Carolina, told The Post and Courier. “Actually, there are no [other] options.”

Brewers are being encourage to repurpose unsold beer into hand sanitizer production if feasible, according to the Brewers Association.