by John McCurry, contributing writer
Michelle Hurd, president of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, is full of praise for the way Iowa grocers have responded during the pandemic.
“They stepped up to the plate, and we are proud of the work they have done and are continuing to do,” she said.
Iowa experienced the same supply chain issues as other states. Hurd said retailers continue to try to resource products with alternative supply sources in order to provide a steady stream.
“I think we are still trying to catch up, as so many are in the U.S.,” she said. “It is much better than it was early in the pandemic. It is starting to even out, although there are still challenges with the dramatic increase in demand that is still going on.
Hurd said the pandemic has accelerated trends that were already under way in the grocery business, including online shopping. Pickup and delivery was already in place in some cases but has since exploded. Touchless payment has increased.
“We will continue to see an increase in online shopping and pickup and delivery,” Hurd said. “That will influence store formats. Investing money in technology will become even more important. Those are the major trends.”
She expects the additional sanitation measures that have been put in place to be a major priority, adding the virus has “brought a whole new aspect of that into practice.”
“Independents who might not have already had online shopping in place before the pandemic, but who saw a dramatic increase in their customers who wanted curbside pickup, have done a great job of being creative in finding ways to meet that need and provide that for their customers,” she said.
The Iowa Grocery Industry Association is a state trade association that represents the food industry including chain and independent supermarkets, chain and independent convenience stores, suppliers, wholesalers, brokers, manufacturers and distributors.