As the COVID-19pandemic forces restaurants and schools around the country to close, a strained dairy supply chain leaves farmers and dairy suppliers with hardly any choice but to dump their surplus milk, reported Bloomberg.
While low prices and high demand mean that customers are buying up gallons, many dairy suppliers depend on wholesale markets, such as the food service industry, which has been brought to a halt by the crisis.
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“There’s no way to offset how much loss we’re seeing with school closings and food-service demand in the form of cheese and butter, just because someone’s buying an extra gallon of milk,” one dairy supplier replied.
The sudden change in the industry, as Reuters points out, also presents new logistical challenges, such as having to ramp up individual packaging for goods.
At the same time, export demand is slowing as food service shutdowns are occurring all over the world and some truck drivers are reluctant to hit the road, fearing illness.
Also, springtime is when cows produce the most milk, and although some dumping usually occurs this season, oversupply exacerbates the problem.
Jason Leedle, a member of America’s largest dairy cooperative, told Reuters since Tuesday that he was directed to dump nearly 5,000 gallons of milk every day.
“We thought this would never happen,” a Wisconsin dairy farmer told USA Today. “Everybody’s rushing to the grocery store to get food, and we have food that’s literally being dumped down the drain.”
The dairy industry is only one of many hard hit by shutdowns of coronavirus. More than 10 million Americans have filed new jobless claims in the last two weeks alone.