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As the dust begins to settle after some of the most harrowing moments in the pandemic, we are starting to get a clearer picture of how COVID-19 is impacting supply chains. Such a seismic disruption was sure to make big changes in every field it touched. Supply chain was no exception.

The Pandemic Had Profound Negative Impacts on Supply Chains

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted institutions as varied as finance, health, trade, education systems, and businesses. The impact of COVID-19 accelerated current problems in supply chains and revealed issues long ignored. In a survey of 200 senior-level supply chain executives conducted by Ernst & Young LLP, only two percent of the companies said they were fully prepared for COVID-19. Of those surveyed, 57 percent reported a serious disruption, with 72 percent reporting a negative effect.

Except for the life science industry, whose products are considered essential, most industries were hit with decreased customer demand due to the pandemic. Furthermore, COVID-19 is impacting supply chains by disrupting and slowing down factories, which must adapt to new safety protocols.

The Future

In the next three years, more businesses will reskill their supply chain employees so they can handle the next big disruption. Even though corporations around the world were well-aware of the possibility of a pandemic for many decades, they had to experience one firsthand to make preparation a priority.

Businesses are already switching from traditional linear supply chain models to more integrated networks with many players. Issues like whether to commit to contract packaging or in-house packaging are being addressed in light of how precarious supply chain management feels. Most respondents of the survey said they will reskill and retrain their workforce to use digital technologies, which will help companies work with increased virtual collaboration.


Some might think COVID-19 is such an all-encompassing problem that businesses could not possibly focus on issues like sustainability while still navigating through the pandemic’s storm. But the survey found something quite different. According to the survey, 85 percent of companies are more focused on the environment and their sustainability. This is in large part due to the demands of investors and workers. More and more investors and workers want to be involved with environmentally conscious companies.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.