Going to the grocery store in March was a bit surreal. Across the US, consumers found shelves empty of basic staples—yet on news broadcasts they saw dairy farmers having to dump milk because they had no way to get their products to market.
The food distribution system had suddenly lost some of its biggest channels with the closure of restaurants, schools, and other large institutions, while demand in supermarkets exploded as far more people cooked for themselves.
Land O’Lakes, one of the largest butter producers in the US and a major producer of cheese and other dairy ingredients, faced peak-level demand for its products at a time when the farmer-owned co-op typically saves inventory for the holiday rush later in the year. It couldn’t make products for its retail channels fast enough or deliver them soon enough, and it quickly started repurposing food normally packaged for