COVID-19 impacting Hong Kong food industry

by | Jul 28, 2020 | 5 Ag Stories, News

One of the most densely populated places in the world is facing another round of COVID-19 challenges, which could have an impact on its food industry.

Hong Kong has announced its renewing efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. According to Joel Haggard, U.S. Meat Export Federation senior vice president for the Asia-Pacific, Hong Kong was one of the first areas outside of China to implement COVID-19 preventative measures. A second wave of infections came in the spring, and now the city is challenged by a new spike in cases.

?Hong Kong managed through the first wave of infections shortly after the lunar new year in late January,? Haggard said, ?and then experienced the second wave in the middle of spring when infected inbound travelers ? mainly from Europe ? were not being properly quarantined. Now, Hong Kong faces its toughest challenge as new cases with unexplained origins reach the level that could soon see the city?s health system get overwhelmed.?

?Keep in mind,? he continued, ?Hong Kong is completely dependent on food imports. Supply chains have held up remarkably well, but the virus has transformed food and meat consumption behavior.?

Haggard says Hong Kong’s retail meat sales are very strong and sales through e-commerce are rapidly expanding, but restaurants face a new round of restrictions that allow only takeout service after 6:00 p.m.

?The Hong Kong government is hoping that by allowing outlets to stay open that they can somehow survive on lunch and takeaway dinner service while they attempt to bring these new outbreaks under control,? Haggard said. ?All of this comes on top of the damage late last year that the industry suffered during the pro-democracy protests. Operators here have to be some of the most challenged on the planet.?

Haggard adds the Hong Kong economy has now endured a half year of COVID-19 fear and uncertainty. The city?s pandemic response system is considered world-class and the city has been one of the few not to have had to completely shut down in society with shelter-in-place rules.