Why coronavirus is causing a massive amount of food waste

Why farmers are destroying their crops
Why farmers are destroying their crops

The coronavirus has massively disrupted the food supply chain.

Before the crisis, over half of Americans' food dollars was spent outside the home, at restaurants and other food service locations. But with that industry largely shuttered, many farmers have found themselves without a market for their crops, even as demand at grocery stores and food banks rises. 

While farmers would like to sell their excess produce to grocery outlets or donate it to food banks, they're up against an inflexible supply chain that is specialized for the end customer. Longstanding contracts between farmers, restaurants, schools and grocery stores determine how the crops will be packaged and processed. So it's just not easy to find new markets and set up new distribution channels. 

All this means that mounds of fresh produce are being destroyed or left to rot in the fields. And while the White House announced a $19 billion farm relief package in April, many farmers worry that it won't be enough.