Ways the Food Industry is reacting to the Corona Virus outbreak

3 April, 2020


The food service industry is amongst the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Now that we are on lockdown, with pubs and restaurants closed, the only options for many food and drink businesses may seem to be either effectively “moth-balling” the business until the crisis is over or closing down the business altogether. 

However, there is financial help from Government schemes, if your business can hang-on until this arrives. The Government has also brought in some helpful changes to the existing rules which usually restrict competition between competitors, in order to encourage businesses to work together to solve their problems and to wrongful trading laws and other elements of the insolvency regime, so that businesses may in some circumstances be able to continue to trade even whilst they are heading towards, or indeed may already be, technically insolvent.   It has also relaxed planning laws to allow restaurants and bars to serve hot or cold take away food and drink without the need to make a planning application.

There are also examples of food service businesses being able to find a way to keep trading by using a combination of different approaches.

Using technology

Some more fortunate businesses in the food service industry will be seeing a rise in demand, especially those that deal with long-life products. The struggle comes with maintaining the delivery chain against the challenges of employee absence and reduced replenishment of stock levels on some lines. Using tech to track products, orders and deliveries can help manage this.

Technology can also help businesses reach a new customer base. Businesses could look at setting up an online delivery service if they do not have one already. Or where they do have one, thinking of how their website might be improved to make the process quicker and simpler for consumers. Chapel Down and Berry Bros have both seen a huge increase in online ordering. Berry Bros have even had their largest online sales day ever amidst the Covid 19 crisis. With pubs and restaurants unavailable for people to get their alcohol fix, they are turning more and more to online deliveries and stocking up.

Changing the way the business is delivered to the consumer

We have already seen pubs and restaurant setting up “meals-on-wheels” services or keeping employees busy by putting together donation packs for charities and homeless shelters with food leftovers. Brakes Group has started selling direct to the consumer, supplying Brakes products to  supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s. They have also linked up with BidFood, usually one of their competitors, and have already done a great deal in putting together care packages for those most in need.

Bringing in new products/services

We have already seen some drinks companies diversifying into making hand sanitiser in their factories. Other businesses are widening the types of products they supply in order to bring in new business and stop existing business going elsewhere.

Bolney Wine for example has introduced:

  • a dine at home option for locals with a non-contact delivery and collection service – an example of expanding the services they offer.
  • offering NHS staff 25% off any of its products – potentially attracting new business.
  • new 3 fresh produce boxes – an example of expanding their product base.

For more information on the support available, and advice for businesses facing challenges related to Covid-19, visit our Coronavirus Hub at https://wordpress-84642-837496.cloudwaysapps.com/coronavirus-covid-19/utilising-government-support/coronavirus-financial-assistance-available/.

For further advice, please contact Lisa Steer on 01892  506 358 or at lisa.steer@crippspg.co.uk.