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Investigating the effects of the outbreak of COVID-19 on perishable food supply chains: an empirical study using PLS-SEM

Syed Abdul Rehman Khan (Xuzhou University of Technology, Xuzhou, China) (ILMA University, Karachi, Pakistan)
Pablo Ponce (Universidad Nacional de Loja, Loja, Ecuador)

The International Journal of Logistics Management

ISSN: 0957-4093

Article publication date: 9 December 2021

Issue publication date: 9 August 2022




At the end of 2019, the first case of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) was reported in Wuhan city of China. The disease was declared a pandemic without imagining the magnitude of damage currently caused in all branches of the economy. One of the most affected sectors was food and mostly perishable food (PF), which are more susceptible to environmental conditions. Thus, the research examines the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on Ecuador's perishable food supply chains (PFSCs) during the pandemic. It contributes to new results on the special issue (SI) PFSC response to event risk and uncertainty, such as those that generated the pandemic.


The data used are from primary information sources, which were collected through a questionnaire. The questionnaire was applied to 298 companies belonging to the sector, and later the information was processed through partial least squares structural equation model. The convergent validity, discriminate and robustness tests provide arguments for the suitability of the model. Therefore, the findings are reliable and valid for the adequate measures to improve the PFSC due to a COVID-19 outbreak.


The results show that the perception of personal risk (PPR) produced by COVID-19 has caused the companies of the PFSC to adopt preventive policies (PO) to avoid contagion and guarantee the operation of the companies. In addition, the PPR has been responsible for the alterations in the demand and price (DP) of PF. Next, PO and DP have a significant effect on PFSC, which shows the evidence favouring the malfunction of PFSC operations due to anti-contagion PO, the mismatch of DP. On the contrary, circular economy practices contribute to the excellent performance of the PFSC. Finally, the research suggests some policy implications to consider in improving the PFSC.


This study is the first to be carried out in Ecuador's country on the PFSC; its contribution is unprecedented and makes it a road-map to be considered to guarantee the correct functioning of the PFSCs, and it will provide policymakers with valid elements to design efficient PFSCs that better respond to unforeseen events and uncertainties. Future research will focus on analysing the management of PF consumption in Ecuador during the pandemic.



This paper forms part of a special section “Operational excellence in the supply chain of perishables at the time of the outbreak”, guest edited by Sachin Kumar Mangla, Gunjan Soni, Michael Bourlakis and Vikas Kumar.

This research was supported by the Beijing Key Laboratory of Urban Spatial Information Engineering (No. 20210218).


Khan, S.A.R. and Ponce, P. (2022), "Investigating the effects of the outbreak of COVID-19 on perishable food supply chains: an empirical study using PLS-SEM", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 773-795.



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