Strong Connections

Why Regional Production Succeeded when the Pandemic Hit

By Jamie Ager

jamie ager

One of Hickory Nut Gap’s core values is relationships.

It is important to pay close attention to all the relationships involved in bringing delicious food to everyone’s plates. Soils, animals, and rural and urban communities are connected through food. Strong relationships have never been more important than during the COVID-19 pandemic.

empty shelves in a grocery store

When COVID-19 hit, supply chains in the food industry saw massive disruptions. As folks faced the reality that they were going to be “staying at home” for a period of time, they flocked to the grocery store and quickly emptied the shelves. This created an unprecedented demand on meat processing infrastructure. 

Facing the challenge of procuring additional animals, then processing and distributing them all over the country to different warehouse locations, large industrial supply chains in the meat sector were not able to adapt quickly enough to meet demand. They ultimately could not accommodate the sudden increase in demand, and store shelves remained empty.

jamie ager and david wallace talking

Hickory Nut Gap retail partners were in urgent need of meat to fill their shelves. Hickory Nut Gap acted quickly, calling farmers, confirming dates with processing plants, and we were able to efficiently deliver products to customers. It took some hustle and pivoting, but we were able to make these changes with relative ease. 

Many retail customers turned to the Hickory Nut Gap Farm Store in Fairview, NC, and we were prepared with full coolers and freezers, as well as an efficient online ordering and curbside pickup process. Customers came by the farm, loaded up, and went home happy. We were able to provide to our Farm Store customers because we raise our own hogs and can manage them through the meat we sell.

Hickory Nut Gap was able to adapt quickly to increased demand when the pandemic struck because of strong relationships with our partners. Small, relationship-based businesses create resilient and adaptable supply chains, while industrial scale, centralized food supply chains are slower to pivot with greater risk involved. In order to fulfil our mission of building community through agriculture, we shorten the distance between farm and fork, and provide essential food to the public.