How is the fresh produce sector moving towards the one and a half meter society? Will working from home become the new norm? Is e-commerce accelerating? Will the supermarket become an even more important sales channel? We asked Roland Gels, CEO of Levarht, what long-term effects he expects from this Corona crisis on daily work and trade.
"We are on our way to a one-and-a-half meter economy, which I cannot yet fully comprehend, but which we need to prepare for," Roland said. "This period has accelerated us and forced us to learn how to meet online, now we are getting used to it. All this leads to, that we travel less and find each other effortlessly from our own workplace, wherever it may be at that moment."
Live video presentations
"Within Levarht, we now do our stand-ups, soapbox sessions and informative quarterly sessions for various groups of employees through live video presentations and pre-recorded short films that we distribute among other things, via Whats App for example. This works great and is to everyone's satisfaction. We have re-organised within the company to create space between workplaces, where we have re-arrange shifts to create distance. It is a puzzle, but if the crisis has taught us anything, it is to be creative," said Roland.
"As a conservative greengrocer, I have always had some mistrust of working from home. But now that I experience it myself; now I have to watch out that I don't sit longer in my workspace than I would normally sit in the office. However, it takes more effort to find your colleagues, but if that energy is put into it, the level of communication will increase because we explain things better to each other and there are earlier control questions. It changes the balance between live and online, and is more stability. What remains a challenge is the speed of information exchange in the day-to-day operations in which our business requires rapid response."
"When we look at the effects on our trade, I expect an acceleration of the already started trend, local-for-local something that we at Levarht have been focusing on for years and that we also believe in. The long-term consequences for our air freight trade will have a negative impact, as customers search for multiple sources, which prove to be competitive with imports from the Netherlands. We have also seen this after closing the borders between the EU and Russia and we also see that in the export moves to the air freight markets such as the United States and Japan, least not because of acceleration in the local-for-local trend," Roland notes.
"I am happy with Levarht's retail share and the growth it entails. I see the order behavior at home and at the neighbors quickly shifting from physical visits to online ordering, that will not disappear. Capacity of online orders is now at a bottleneck with waiting times increasing and on the other hand it will decrease sales per square meter on the shop floor," says Roland.
Delay in food service and take out food
"On the other hand, the after-effects of this crisis will be felt by the food service industry for a long time to come. Food service and take out food was a fast growing branch in our industry, sweeping from America and England.
This growth will be delayed for a long time and we are not just back at pre-crisis levels. On the one side by the one-and-a-half term company, on the other hand prompted by a financial crisis."
"Just as we now come together with creative solutions within Levarht, I expect that one of the most positive consequences of this crisis will be the more innovative way of collaboration within our chain and new solutions. These solutions will largely have a digital aspect. In short; opportunities," concludes the director of Levarht.