COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Association of Foodbanks said it is facing a 30% decrease in the amount of donated food from retailers, manufacturers and donors. Supply chain issues, coupled with the significant increases in prices across the board, are causing major disruptions.
“Inflation has been a real thing, as we’ve talked about across a variety of sectors, but the food sector in particular,” agriculture expert Andy Vance said. “When we see it increase as much as it has, and it’s the largest food prices we’ve seen, probably in 40 years, it’s really, really notable. Things like energy costs, the availability of fertilizers and other products, but the biggest part of it is the issues related to the logistics and supply chain. That’s really driving up the cost of food across a variety of food categories right now.”
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said Americans are two years out from the beginning of the pandemic and supply chains have moved from brittle to broken.
“The food that we have depended upon, whether it’s from industry, from food manufacturers or wholesalers, to farmers, growers and commodity producers to the United States Department of Agriculture have all been plagued by a perfect storm in situations that have affected their ability to produce food that we have all come to rely on as a wholesome source of low-cost food, so as the food continues to dry up or become almost unaffordable, we need more food because we have more Ohioans who are turning to us in their darkest hour because their incomes are not keeping up with the overall cost of living,” she said.
The Ohio Association of Foodbanks said it served 767,787 households in March 2020. That number increased to 862,634 in March 2022.
It also said it expects costs to increase at least 30% for the purchase price of most food commodities with the cost of meat and eggs increasing by 50-60%.
Meanwhile, Vance said the increased costs do not convert into increased profits for farmers. He said the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggested in 2020, based on their economic research, that only 6% of the dollar spent on food goes directly to the farmer.
“So it’s a really small share,” said Vance. “The other parts of what goes into food price inflation are things like shipping, logistics, food processing, so the cost of all of those things going up also drives up the cost of the dollar that we spend on food in addition to things like commodity prices, fertilizer prices and actual on-farm effects, but a lot of it happens off the farm.
“A lot of the inflation that we’re seeing has very little to do with what’s actually happening on the farm. It’s just a really complex situation.”