What a strange and memorable year 2020 is shaping up to be. Since the turn of the year we have seen a new threat to our modern lifestyles, in Covid -19. The spread and effect of this new virus has been alarming and unprecedented with many commentators looking to history to try and find some comparison.
The major difference seems to be how mobile we had all become, even those of us that would not regard ourselves as jet setters would not think too much about travelling to meetings or sporting and cultural events that previous generations would have just never considered.
This mobility of mankind has undoubtedly helped the speed of the spread of the virus, but the disruption to everyday life as we try to slow the spread of the virus has been alarming. The Farming calendar is such that the saying time and tide wait for no man means that for those of us involved in the industry life has continued with daily routine, for many of us a lifestyle in which it is relatively easy to isolate ourselves. For those that consume the produce which we produce, deliver and create things are not so easy, and whilst we saw panic buying strain supply chains at the start of the pandemic these are starting to steady and normalise for many products.
But as our industry continues largely unscathed think of those who are furloughed or worse laid off as the lockdown destroys businesses and consumer confidence throughout the global economy. The true consequences of our efforts to control the spread of Covid-19 may not be obvious yet, the impact on our business is potentially huge.
We have been building an efficient and effective structure to move malting barley at harvest time and with many maltsters seeing a sudden drop in malt requirements as brewery and distillery customers are forced to pause production this will undoubtedly impact the stocks of barley the industry will be carrying at harvest. This increased stock will sit in stores that normally would be cleaned and ready to accept the next harvest, so the management of grain at harvest this year will be hugely important as stores are cleared to hold the harvest and some grower’s facilities are better able to cope than others. We will find ourselves having to help manage the producers contracted barley and the consumers long stock position. For Scotgrain this means as we are locked down we are modelling various scenarios to enable us to be able to deal with this challenge when it comes and be best prepared to treat everyone fairly and correctly in what could be a challenging period.