As the coronavirus starts to take hold in the UK many people are choosing to work from home, they are also eating out less and many big sporting events were cancelled over the weekend this will inevitably have an effect on trade within the fresh produce sector.
“We are seeing a shift in demand from one sector to another, where foodservice is undoubtedly quieter and retail is buoyant,” said Andy Weir from Reynolds, a major supplier to the food service industry. “There will be an effect on workplace supply and the lunchtime trade will also be hit. Restaurants and hotels will also see fewer guests, supplying to the healthcare market is unaffected.”
The UK has no lock-down in place and schools are still open, only Scotland has banned gatherings of large numbers of people. The supermarkets are extremely busy and retail sales are up.
“The biggest challenge for us will be managing our stock levels, but so far we are not seeing major issues in non-availability of stock. The key focus for Reynolds is making sure our employees are safe and have access to sanitising facilities, where possible people are working from home, but we have a large warehouse and packing room and many drivers, we are a very hands-on business. Our workers are pulling together. We have ramped up our return to work policy for those who have been abroad.”
Andy said that communication with customers is very important in order to minimise waste. “We have a steering committee who are meeting every day to assess the situation with our customers.”