While health systems around the world groan under the pressure of Covid-19, another crucial network is also showing signs of strain.

Supply chains — the linchpin of the global economy — are creaking as border closures, bidding wars and lockdown protocols imperil the flow of everything from food to vital medical kit.

While billions of people shelter at home, ship crews, truckers, meat-packers and grocery-store stock clerks form part of a massive effort to keep them served and the economy running.

They will need reinforcements and better coordination among the dizzying array of bureaucracies that oversee global trade before world leaders can fully re-reopen their economies.

Until then, supply chains are vulnerable.

After President Donald Trump said U.S. grocery retailers seemed “in very good shape” this week, the world’s biggest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, announced yesterday it would shut plants in Wisconsin and Missouri. That follows a bottleneck after it closed a South Dakota slaughterhouse where workers had tested positive for the virus.

Elsewhere, fruit and vegetable harvests are going to waste from California to Spain, while U.S. and British dairy farmers are dumping milk.

Nowhere is the risk more visible than the Middle East where, as Sylvia Westall and Layan Odeh report, desert nations import as much as 90% of their food. Memories of the global shortages that began in 2007 are still fresh there.

That experience offers a warning for countries worldwide. Then, as now, even vast wealth didn’t guarantee access to supplies.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.