Agile planning: Avoiding disaster in the grocery supply chain during COVID-19 crisis

Lauri Saarinen, Lauri Loikkanen, Kari Tanskanen, Riikka Kaipia, Susanna Takkunen, Jan Holmström

Research output: Working paperScientific


The COVID-19 crisis heavily tested grocery supply chains and supply chain management capabilities. Swift response practices proved to be more valuable than ever before, as the grocery retailers faced sudden, unanticipated, and simultaneous shocks both on the demand and on the supply side. At the same time, the virus posed a threat to manufacturers' production capacities, and new bottlenecks emerged for logistics service providers as consumers switched to on-line shopping and home delivery. For many food wholesalers and distributors demand also changed almost overnight from one delivery channel to another: not only from retail stores to online channels, but also from food services (restaurants) to grocery stores. In these circumstances, maintaining good delivery capacity and ensuring availability to the end customers called for fast operational changes of individual firms and coordinated adaptations of supply chain practices. Despite the challenges, many supply chains coped surprisingly well with the shocks and were able to keep-up good performance through the crisis. We conducted a real-time study as the COVID-19 crisis was unfolding, from the beginning of the first government issued restrictions, and all the while the pandemic was gaining speed. This setting allowed us to gain first-hand insights from interviewees considering their responses at different times and in different echelons of the grocery supply chain.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAalto University
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-60-3960-2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

Publication series

NameAalto University publication series. Business + economy
PublisherAalto University
ISSN (Print)1799-4810
ISSN (Electronic)1799-4829


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