Food & Cooking

Disruption in U.S. food supply chain impacts local businesses and families

FLORIDA/GEORGIA — Action News Jax Investigates how a disruption in the U.S. food supply chain is impacting local food distributors, businesses and families.

“I anticipate to have lots of challenges over the next six to eight weeks as everyone tries to ramp back up,” John Nagy said.

Nagy is the co-owner of Eleventh South Bistro and Owner of 3 Palms Grille. He said each of their restaurants started preparing to reopen as soon as Governor Ron DeSantis made the announced about Phase 1 last week.

“We’re reinventing our food and beverage programs at both places, which includes sourcing food, includes sourcing for wines, and getting your staff back in order. And of course getting the building back in order after six weeks of not being used,” Nagy.

He said they took a risk by ordering food supplies before the reopening announcement was made on Thursday. Nagy said major food distributors issued a warning to restaurants about a low stock in certain food and meats for the next few months.

“We shortened the menu, so about 70% of what we were running, we’re running now in terms of different apps, different entrees and salads,” Nagy said.

Action News Jax found local grocery stores have limited customers on what they can buy and local restaurants have changed their menu because of low food supply.

During the pandemic, farmers across the country destroyed their crops because businesses were closed. Now that more are reopening, they’re forced to wait on new, fresh produce to grow.

“When everything happened, people don’t know what to do,” Michael Owen said. “There are going to be some gaps in different areas of the food chain. We’re seeing a gap in asparagus because we had a three week lag from getting stuff from South America up here.”

Owen is the General Manager for The Garden Produce. It is the largest independent, family-owned wholesaler in Northeast Florida. They supply food to local restaurants, grocery stores, schools and hospitals.

During the pandemic, Owen said they saw a drop in orders from local restaurants. However, the high demand from grocery stores offset the loss.

As they continue to fill more orders now, he anticipates some delays with filling orders from farmers.

“We are going to see some gaps here and there, but stuff grows pretty quick these days so they’re usually short-lived for us in the produce world,” Owen said.

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