Coronavirus pandemic changing food-shopping behaviors, Land O'Lakes CEO says

Land O'Lakes is seeing 'tremendous volatility' in commodities, CEO Beth Ford said

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Dairy giant Land O’Lakes has been monitoring the relationship between agriculture and retail during the coronavirus outbreak, recognizing that demand and the way consumers shop is beginning to shift.

“We certainly are seeing the consumers change their behavior," Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday. "They’re buying for a couple weeks at a time, a lot of folks are buying online.”

Meanwhile, Ford said there have been several factors that have tanked the price of commodities in the industry, including depreciation of the Brazilian Real against the strong U.S. dollar and lack of product demand in food service. This, however, will not translate back to the consumer, according to Ford, since retailers set prices.

“The CRB index, which is a representative index of commodities since the coronavirus spread, has dropped to a level we haven't seen since 1972,” Ford told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo. “And this is across all of the commodity areas — we are seeing tremendous volatility.”

CORONAVIRUS SHIFTS WHITE CASTLE'S FOCUS TO RETAIL, DRIVE-THRU

Still, Ford said Land O’Lakes' supply chain remains strong.

Empty shelves in the dairy aisle on March 15, 2020 at Kings Supermarket in Short Hills, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Ford explained while retail for Land O’Lakes is up, as Americans are shopping in bulk more than ever, food service has dropped “dramatically” and international shipments have not been moving “as rapidly.”

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“Farmers are starting to get back in the field and we're seeing a very strong movement of goods,” she said. “At the same time, our dairy processing plants are working well and our staff is showing up.”

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In response to coronavirus impact, Ford said the company is investing in employees by paying additional wages and putting new sanitation and protective regiments in order.

“Thank you to those in our value chain who are working hard to make sure the food supply is secure,” she said. “It is a pillar of our national security and I'm grateful for the efforts that the farmers are making right now.”

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