Despite the challenges the pandemic brings, it also shows people’s ability to adjust. “In order to maintain the supply chain, companies have become very creative and, in many ways, we are finding solutions to adjust,” says Chris Sarantis with Montreal-based Canadawide. “I believe we will continue to use many of these solutions in future. This difficult time has resulted in many people stepping up and I feel this crisis brings about the best in people.”
Together, we can beat this
At Canadawide, there is a true sense of ‘togetherness’. The company distributes produce in the larger metropolitan areas of Eastern Canada, but many local customers also physically come to the company’s facility to select product for their businesses. “In order to continue to provide our customers the opportunity to shop at our location, we all had to make adjustments,” Sarantis said. “On our end, one of the measures we have taken includes reducing the number of customers allowed in the facility at the same time. In addition, we have our sales staff wear masks and gloves and have put up plexiglass separators in the offices. Our customers are also adjusting by shopping at different times of the day and staying 6 feet away from our employees.” Canadawide’s customers have shown to be very understanding and collaborative. “This situation has required everyone to adjust and together, we make it work and maintain the supply chain.”
Chris Sarantis with Canadawide.
Citrus, bananas and berries are best sellers
When asked about produce sales, Sarantis mentioned that there is quite a difference between fruits and vegetables. “What we are seeing, and also hearing from retailers is that vegetables are selling very well with the exception of some specialty items. “Unique items that are mainly used by restaurants don’t move as quickly, but for almost all other items we see a ‘buy, use and replenish’ pattern.” On the fruit side however, things are a bit more complicated. “Consumers are being more selective. They choose products that are either shelf-stable or items that they know are popular in their household. People want to prevent food from being thrown away.” As a result, citrus, bananas and berries are the best sellers. “These are the no-brainer items that everyone continues buying, but the impulse items have taken a hit. First of all, people don’t shop as frequently as they used to and when they make a trip to the store, they go in with a list and stick to it. In addition, retailers are merchandising differently. Some displays are smaller or have been removed to create room for customers to practice social distancing.”
On the sourcing side, things are also running pretty smoothly. “We know we need to give our suppliers some extra time to prepare our orders as their capacity is down. However, this is something we have all adjusted to. All in all, there are challenges, but nothing we can’t overcome.”