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Area grocers face concerns with health, supply chain – News – Times Telegram

While some shops and businesses have been closed amid the coronavirus outbreak, grocery stores remain holdouts.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo included grocery stores on a list of essential businesses when he put the state on pause in March. Now, grocers face challenges to employee and customer safety, as well as an uncertain supply chain amid overwhelming demand.

Hannaford Supermarkets has implemented a number of precautions and social distancing measures to keep associates and customers safe. Those include regular sanitation of areas with a high volume of touches, while plexiglass barriers have been installed in stores to separate cashiers and customers, said Hannaford Supermarkets spokesman Eric Blom.

Price Chopper Supermarkets is taking similar steps.

Associates are given extra breaks for hand-washing, for example, said Mona Golub, the grocery chain’s vice president of public relations and consumer services.

“Many don’t know, when we close overnight, as we are now between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., we’ve hired professional cleaning crews to comprehensively clean our stores,” Golub said.

Hannaford is asking customers to shop alone or with as few people as necessary, try to visit on off-hours and make one larger trip during the week instead of several smaller ones.

Supply chain intact

At Chanatry’s Market on French Road in Utica, the coronavirus has presented tremendous challenges, said owner Mark Chanatry.

Yet Chanatry said his store is fortunate to be able to buy from different suppliers as an independent store, which allows them stay well stocked.

“We are providing an outlet to so many local small businesses to be able to sell their products in our store to help them survive this crisis,” Chanatry said. “Our great partnerships with so many small businesses and vendors is what we’re proud about.”

The unprecedented demand for certain products has led to challenges in the supply chain, making for a volatile product market, Chanatry said.

Golub said it’s important for consumers to know the country’s food supply isn’t in jeopardy, however.

“Some manufacturers have begun to limit their production to certain varieties and sizes that are most popular,” Golub said.

Blom said Hannaford has put purchase limits on products in high demand so more families can get the essentials they need.

“We want customers to know that the food supply chain in the United States is healthy and resilient, so this is not a supply issue,” Blom said. “The challenge is getting product delivered and on store shelves at a speed that matches this extraordinary demand.”

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