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Distribution centers work around the clock to keep up with supply and demand during a pandemic

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Posted at 11:06 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 09:25:30-04

PLANT CITY, Fla. -- Meat shelves are bare and everyday products continue to fly off the shelves. It is one of the most visual impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on everyday life.

The I-Team got an exclusive access inside a Florida distribution center, which was working around the clock to try and keep up with supply and (overwhelming) demand.

Workers at Star Distribution in Plant City say they’ve never seen inventory come in and go out so quickly.

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In the supply-and-demand chain, they are the middleman providing products to more than 300 retailers around the state — from appliances and pharmaceuticals to food.

“When everybody came out and were buying more than they needed, it really took the normal supply chain flow,” said Larry Jimenez, the vice president of the business development here.

“What has been the biggest surprise?” asked I-Team investigator Katie LaGrone.

“The biggest surprise is how fast the products are turning and the manufacturers are trying to keep up,” Jimenez said.

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Take for example — olive oil — typically, they’ll turn a half-truck load of these in a day. Now, it’s full truck loads and the demand keeps coming.

As for disinfecting wipes, typically the distribution center keeps about 1,000 of these pallets on hand every day. Now, they’re down to about 25

But while Ken Armstrong, president and CEO of Florida’s Trucking Association says Florida’s history of hurricane gives its supply chain a leg up in the game of catchup.

“Many of them are facing challenges that we’re used to because of hurricanes,” he said.

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At Star Distribution, Jimenez tells us employees are taking extra precautions — while working around the clock to keep up with the game of supply and demand that doesn’t appear to be easing up anytime soon.

“I really believe we’ve seen the peak on the supply chain side and our customers will be able to keep up with the demand,” Jimenez said.

Experts say the speed of manufacturing products to delivering them is now getting faster, which means you, the consumer, should hopefully start seeing the products you need on store shelves more frequently.

The Florida Investigative Team