Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have hit the food service industry very hard. The COVID-19 outbreak has created a sharp downturn for firms in the food service industry, compelling actors across the whole food service supply chain to rethink their strategies. The purpose of this paper is to document the impact of COVID-19 on the food service supply chain, as well as to identify crisis management strategies food service firms use during the hectic early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic to survive the current and prepare for future pandemics. Design/methodology/approach: We performed a qualitative descriptive study using 21 semi-structured interviews with actors across the food service supply chain (i.e. farmers, wholesalers and food service providers). Data were collected to shed light on food service firms' decision making during the hectic early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic to uncover various crisis management strategies used. Findings: By integrating the disaster and crisis pyramid and resilience theory, four core crisis management strategies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic are conceptualized, i.e. (1) managing resources, (2) diversifying strategically, (3) prioritizing long-term outcomes and (4) bonding socially. Originality/value: The theoretical contributions include documenting the performance impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food service supply chain and exploring crisis management strategies food service firms employed during the hectic early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, functioning and survival during a pandemic, an emerging field in literature, are central to this study. Additionally, while recent research suggests that integrating crisis management and resilience literature may provide a more complete understanding of the organization–crisis relationship, these literature streams mainly developed in isolation. By integrating the literature streams of crisis management and resilience and applying these theories to the COVID-19 crisis, our study provides specific managerial guidelines.
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- Crisis management strategies
- Food service supply chain
- Resource management
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management