IJoL cover.png

International Journal of Logistics

Research and Applications

Special issue call for papers: 

Impact of COVID-19 on Agri-Food Supply Chains:

Safety, Technology, Economy, Policy (STEP)

Submission deadline: 31st December 2020

Guest Editors:

Overview of Special Issue:

Today, globalization has escalated cross-border trade opportunities, interdependence of national economies, production of highly value-added and customized products, accessibility of goods, services and technology across all industries including the agri-food sector. However, in view of globalization, the 21st century witnessed various pandemics and the most recent Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has critically affected economic & technological structure of organizations
and disrupted the lives globally. The nationwide lockdowns due to the spread of COVID-19 has forced most of the developed and developing nations to stop their economy. Irrespective of the industry type, it has contrived safety, technology, economy and policy of most of the organizations. The Agri-Food Supply Chains (AFSCs), linking the operations of food production with ‘farm to fork’, the agri-farming, food processing and the allied food sectors are not immune to this slowdown. The pandemic has caused vast uncertainties in demand and disrupted the agri-food sector (Cappelli and Cini, 2020) and it is a big challenge to keep AFSCs safe and secure (Hobbs, 2020). It has stressed the agricultural processes deprived of labour, affected the manufacturing capacity up, hoarding of food items causing bullwhip effects as well as the fragility of supply chains contributing to the overall economy in unforeseen ways. Transportation
restrictions have resulted in an increased level of food wastage due to delays in food supply chains, particularly perishables. Furthermore, it is a challenge to meet customer demand for food given to prevailing situations arisen due to COVID-19 thus affecting overall food supply chain.

Agri-food industry needs unprecedented policy measures to manage the flow of produce throughout supply chain, particularly in such pandemics. Somehow, if the farm produce still manages to complete its journey from the farm to the food processing industry, still there are many challenges (Larue, 2020). The packaging industry is also reporting a decline because of customer’s evasion to accept ready to eat food packets soft drinks. Transportation restrictions primarily affects the small and marginal agri-food businesses. The farmers in the business of perishables are also facing the consequences due to drops in demand and export instability. The health of dairy animals as well as the quality of dairy products are also being hindered due to unavailability of appropriate equipment and facilities. Decreasing consumption of the meat and
fish like non-vegetarian products due to infection fear has forced the slaughter businesses to be shut down (Mayurnikova et al., 2020; Mussel et al., 2020). The government agencies are suggesting to follow a single panacea tactic of social distancing to cope with these situations. But still, worrying and challenging questions are there that, what will happen if even a single farmworker gets affected? How will the chain break in such a situation? Although, till now the available stocks are being utilized. However, due to the disturbance in the farm, industrial processing, and the linking supply chain, there may be a stage of the recession and shortage of food supplies that will come after this disaster. A report of food and agriculture organization quoted by grain analysts indicates that ‘the problem is not the supply, but a behavioral change
over food safety and security’ (UN News, 2020).

The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are now threatening the food security of billions of people globally and the resulting threats to the supply chain have induced food distribution, higher demand, and food shortage issues (Zurayk, 2020). Thus, to overcome such challenges, the agri-food industry needs to manage its logistics, retail, manufacturing, ecommerce, food service, etc. activities with highly agile supply chains. Besides, the government, NGOs, and the food industry need partnering to speed up the procurement and manufacturing practices to cope with supply chain disturbances and market volatility. Although some businesses have been performing well in response to the disruptions via digital technology implementation, efficient logistics chain, and evolution of the business model. As the food safety is the major issue in agri food supply chain, the food industry must now emphasize the safety aspects and offer
training regarding food hygiene ethics to eradicate the risk of containing food surfaces and food packaging materials (FAO, 2019; WHO, 2020). In this view, managing the agri-food industry including food procurement, processing and distribution, and catering have become priority industries and applied research is required to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on the AFSCs, considering the future crises, revealing weaknesses and opportunities of the sector. The current
Special Issue (SI) attempts to report such questions and proposing a strategic AFSC system, planning models and tools and policy.

Subjects covered:

The following subjects connecting COVID-19 and AFSCs are welcome, but not restricted to:

  • Competition modeling, forecasting and long-term strategies in food SMEs

  • Dynamics of zoning the food harvesting, processing, supply, storage and distribution systems

  • Factors attributing to market growth in the food safety testing industry

  • Food safety management systems

  • Operational costs, retail value chain and bullwhip effects in AFSCs

  • Policy interventions and recommendations in AFSCs

  • Price volatility, demand, hoarding and trade restrictions

  • Restoring the production capacity in AFSCs post COVID-19

  • Role of Internet-of-Things (IoT), self-adaptive optimization methods and artificial intelligence in AFSC decisions

  • Planning methods toward resilient, environmental- and social-friendly AFSC and AF ecosystems

  • Short food supply chains and local productions

  • Technological innovations and emerging digital technologies affecting AFSCs

  • Transportation & trade restrictions, inventory and freight issues

  • Processing technologies for traceability in food supply chain and quality assurance systems

  • Communicative packaging concepts in AFSCs

  • Consumers behaviour for food safety and ethical issues during pandemics

Scope of Subjects:


The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and once in a century situation that points towards the need to explore the issues that provide innovative solutions through empirical modeling approaches and their optimization and validation to improve AFSCs. The SI is aimed to get insights on how the managing of safe & hygiene practices, technological innovations, sustainable business policy along the optimization methods can help the agri-food industry to cope with the
pandemic and sustaining organizational & national economy. The issues may consist of supply chain network designing, modeling the demand and supply systems, transportation scheduling, distribution management, etc. in the agri-food sector (Stauffer et al., 2020). Further, the SI will conclude on the following points given the theme:


  • Benefits of innovative supply chains and perspectives of coping with disruptions

  • Selection and management of safe food processing technology

  • Selection and management of safe, resilient and sustainable food networks

  • Long-term impacts of COVID-19 on global AFSCs

  • Implementation of emerging digital technologies to ensure food safety and improve productivity of AFSCs

  • Preventive measures and steps in risk management systems

  • Strategic positioning of major AFSC players post Covid-19

Thus, the special issue will be beneficial for the agri-food industry as well as for academia through exploring the research opportunities linked with different aspects of AFSCs. Prerequisite for Empirical Research: The studies should be focused on the link between the COVID-19 pandemic and the AFSCs and aimed at assessing the role of empirical models and information systems affecting food quality, safety, wastages, and demand/supply system are equally welcome. Authors are encouraged to implement empirical methodologies, exhaustive case-studies and proposing innovative solutions on how to build quick-recovery systems for agri-food business models globally. Authors wishing to submit papers to this special issue must ensure that their work offers insights into promoting innovative and sustainable AFSC practices and the research must include organizational strategy as a central part. The studies having a theoretical base but lacking the managerial implications as well as the review articles may not be considered for this special issue. The study should provide solid bases to come across the advanced fields of AFSCs for enhanced operational and technological innovations. The methodologies, including analytical modeling, simulation, operations management, quantitative and qualitative empirical studies, and multimethod articles with proper validation are especially welcome. This kind of reinforcement will help recover the AFSCs currently/after the conclusion of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Important dates (tentative):

The following important dates will guide the development of this SI:

  • Full paper submission by: 31/12/2020

  • First review outcome by: 28/02/2021

  • First revised manuscript submission by: 31/03/2021

  • Second review outcome by: 30/04/2021

  • Second revised manuscript submission by: 31/05/2021

  • Final decision outcome by: 30/06/2021

Papers will be subject to a rigorous review process under the supervision of the Guest Editors and Editor-in-Chief, and accepted papers will be published online before print publication. Regarding the submission guidelines and other details, authors should refer to the IJoL homepage.

Special Issue Guest Editors:

Dr. Rahul S Mor is Assistant Professor at the Department of Food Engineering, National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management, Sonepat, India. He holds a Ph.D. in Industrial & Production Engineering, specialized in Food Supply Chain Management. His research, particularly in agri-food sector, has appeared in many esteemed international journals & conferences, and Chapters/Books in CRC Press, Taylor & Francis, Springer, IGI Global, etc. His recent research focuses on Benchmarking, and Developing the framework to assess food supply chains. He has the exposure of executing R&C projects in manufacturing sector. He is also serving as the Managing Guest Editor, Operations Management Research: Advancing Practice through Theory journal (Springer Nature); Associate Editor, Supply Chain Forum: An International Journal (Taylor & Francis), Int. Journal of Supply & Operations Management (KU); Editorial Board Member, Journal of Dairy Science (Elsevier), Int. Journal of Lean Thinking (SU), etc., and reviewer of many international journals. His research interest includes operations management, food supply chain management, lean production, supply chain modeling, global manufacturing strategies, etc. He is the managing
guest editor of this special issue.

Dr. Anupama Singh currently works as full Professor and Head of the Department of Food Engineering, National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management, Sonepat, India. She holds 27 years of vast research and teaching experience. She has published over 250 research articles, 6 Books/Chapters in various peer-reviewed international and national journals & conferences. She is recipient of Norman Borlaug Fellowship award by USDA and ICAR, National Fellow Award by ICAR Delhi, India, and numerous other recognitions, fellowships and awards at the international and national levels. She has the exposure of executing various R&D and Consultancy projects in the agri-food sector. She has guided 4 research at the doctorate level, over 28 research at the masters level, and 13 projects at the graduate level. Her research interest includes process & food engineering, food supply chains, analytical techniques in food technology, advances in food processing, biotechnological applications in food processing, etc.

Dr. Emel Aktas holds a Chair of Supply Chain Analytics at Cranfield School of Management, specialising in mathematical modelling for decision analysis in transport, retail, and manufacturing sectors. She was a co-investigator in U-TURN, a recently completed Horizon 2020 Project which focused on collaborative freight practices for urban distribution of food,
specifically groceries purchased online. She was responsible for data collection, mathematical model building and solution as well as analysis of results.

Dr. Riccardo Accorsi is Senior Researcher and Assistant Professor at the University of Bologna’s Department of Industrial Engineering since 2015. He teaches classes on Industrial Logistics and Production Management and Optimisation. His research fields lie in operations management with particular focus on the food industry. His efforts are intended for developing decision-support models and tools to aid design, planning and optimisation of sustainable production and distribution systems for food and perishable products. Leading member of the Food & Wine Supply Chain Council (FWSCC), he was recipient of the 2018 Sustainability Young Investigator Award for the contribution to the advancement of food supply chain management as an important area in the field of sustainability. He has written numerous applied
research papers on food supply chain operations (80 ISI/Wos/Scopus papers; H-index – 18 on Scopus) and has been involved in many funded research projects and consulting for industry. So far, he published the book Sustainable Food Supply Chains: Planning, Design, and Control through Interdisciplinary Methodologies (Academic Press Elsevier), and has served as Guest Editor for the Journal of Cleaner Production, Journal of Food Engineering and Sustainability.

Dr. Sunil Luthra is working at Government Polytechnic, Jhajjar, Haryana, India. He is also working as Honorary Research Fellow at Bradford School of Management, University of Bradford, Bradford, United Kingdom. He has contributed over 180 research papers in international referred and national journals, and conferences at international and national level. He
has an excellent research track record (over 310 cumulative research impact points; received more than 4,100 citations on Google Scholar; H-index – 32 on Google Scholar). He has received many Awards and Honours for the research and teaching. He is Guest Editor of many reputed journals such Journal of Cleaner Production, Technology Forecasting & Social Change, Production Planning & Control, Resources Policy, Resources, Conservation and Recycling and Annals of
Operations Research etc. He is reviewing papers for more than 50 reputed journals. He is on editorial board of many reputed journals. He has published 7 books with reputed publishers such as CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC and New Age International Publisher (P) Ltd. etc. His research interests are: Productions & Operations Management; Sustainable Production and Consumption; Green/Sustainable/Circular Supply Chain Management (GSCM/SSCM/CSCM);
Agri-food supply chains; Digitization in Supply Chain; Industry 4.0; Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities etc.

Cappelli, A., & Cini, E. (2020). Will the COVID-19 pandemic make us reconsider the relevance of short food supply chains and local productions?. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 99, 566-567.

FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, & WHO. (2019). The state of food security and nutrition in the
world (SOFI) 2019: Safeguarding against economic slowdowns and downturns. Rome: FAO. Retrieved from: https://www.wfp.org/publications/2019-statefood-security-and-nutrition-world-sofi-safeguarding-against-economic.

Hobbs, J. E. (2020). Food supply chains during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 1-6, DOI: 10.1002/cjag.12237.

Larue, B. Labour issues and COVID‐19. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics. Forthcoming, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/cjag.12233.

Mayurnikova, L. A., Koksharov, A. A., & Krapiva, T. V. (2020). Food safety practices in catering during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Foods and Raw Materials, 8(2), 197–203. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21603/2308-4057-2020-2-197-203.

Mussell, A., Bilyea, T., & Hedley, D. (2020). Agri-food supply chains and Covid-19: Balancing resilience and vulnerability. Independent Agri-Food Policy Note, Agri-Food Economic Systems, 1-6 (http://www.agrifoodecon.ca).

Stauffer, J. M., Pedraza-Martinez, A. J., Yan, L. L., & Van Wassenhove, L. N. (2018). Asset supply networks in humanitarian operations: A combined empirical-simulation approach. Journal of Operations Management, 63(1), 44-58.

UN News, Peace and Security, 3 April 2020. COVID-19: The global food supply chain is holding up, for now. Retrieved from: https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061032.

World Health Organization (WHO). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Situation report-108. May 7, 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situationreports/20200507covid-19-sitrep-108.pdf?sfvrsn=44cc8ed8_2.

Zurayk, R. (2020). Pandemic and Food Security. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and
Community Development, 9(3), 1-5.