Army could be called to protect supermarkets amid coronavirus panic-buying
Some people are freaking out, but the supermarkets have it all under control
As the Covid-19 Coronavirus continues to spread, it’s emerged that UK supermarkets have drawn up contingency plans to help offset panic-buying by people, well, freaking out.
Several supermarkets have reported customers stockpiling items such as bottled water, tinned food and pasta, and delivery firm Ocado said it had seen exceptionally high demand with people placing large food orders. An expert has suggested that further panic-buying could see the military deployed to protect food stocks.
Details of the plans came from City analyst Bruno Monteyne of investment firm Alliance Bernstein, as detailed in The Guardian. Monteyne, formerly a supply chain director at Tesco, said further escalation of the virus could result in “panic buying, empty shelves and food riots”. But, he added, there were plans in place to deal with such disruption.
"Aaargh, panic buy cake" (Photo by Photo Boards on Unsplash)
In a message to investors, he said “Yes, it will be chaotic (and expect pictures of empty shelves), but the industry will reduce complexity to keep the country fed.” Tesco, he added, had practiced simulation exercises with teams prepared for a flu pandemic.
Getting the army in
Should the outbreak worsen, Britain may see supermarkets and suppliers reduce their ranges so that facilities can be as efficient as possible at keeping the public fed. Monteyne said firms were likely to be preparing lists of which products will be prioritised, but he did not expect prices to rise, for fear of accusations of profiteering.
However, he warned that the army could be called in to protect depots, food trucks and stores, and suggested that all supermarkets and suppliers would start working together.