The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive effect on industries that are essential to modern life, and one most impacted by COVID-19 has been the worldwide supply chain industry.

These well-established modern trade routes control what we can buy in the local grocery store and what manufacturers can produce. All around the globe, challenges presented by COVID are interfering with the supply chains people and companies count on for raw materials and finished goods.

What makes the effect of COVID-19 so extraordinary is the way it is impacting every facet of the supply chain, both downstream and upstream supply lines. Organizations are having problems getting the materials required to make goods, and they are finding it difficult to bring their products to market.

Many experts are saying the effects of COVID will be seen long after the pandemic has passed.

A More Durable Supply Chain

Moving forward, COVID will have a long-term impact on how companies structure their supply chains. Many businesses have concentrated on the lowest possible cost, especially over the last 20 years. However, there will probably be a much larger focus on durability, contingency strategies, and risk assessment.


Given the sprawling, global nature of the modern supply chain, perhaps it should not come as a surprise that a global pandemic would have a massive disruptive effect. In response, many American businesses will start looking at how to create their products either in the U.S. or at least in North America. The process of reshoring will require some time, as the United States possesses a considerable international trade deficit and imports billions of goods every year.

More Distributed Production

In recent times, many manufacturing industries have experienced rapid consolidation, as top businesses have amassed large production facilities, and smaller independent producers have vanished. For example, four businesses are responsible for 74 percent of the beef industry, while five businesses handle 64 percent of the pork industry, according to data from the North American Meat Institute.

The inherent contradiction is that concentration is cost-effective, but it can be extremely costly when these massive production facilities have to be shut down.

A more robust supply chain that can tolerate severe disruption will have to be more distributed than most modern supply chains.


The COVID-19 outbreak also is motivating businesses to re-examine their supply chain practices and contingency plans.

Businesses will start by trying to gain a deep understanding of crucial bottlenecks in their supply chains. Businesses will also reevaluate the risks in their supply chains. This will entail going back and looking at the supply chain components of their core operations.

As businesses determine how to move forward in this new normal, they also have to ensure that what they remake is sustainable, which means taking nothing for granted.

We Can Help You Navigate the Future of the Supply Chain Industry

At ZDA, we’re tapping into our deep knowledge and understanding of the supply chain industry to help professionals develop their careers in these difficult times. Please contact us today to find out how we can help your supply chain career.