It’s inevitable that the businesses we see right in front of us are suffering greatly from COVID-19, but what about the food suppliers and distributors?
The people behind the scenes that affect what the ones right in front of us look like? Yep, you guessed it. This pandemic has hit them just the same. Although physical restaurants are the face of the food industry, “…people don’t realize how many businesses come behind the restaurants… if they struggle, we struggle.” said McDonald, the Chief Executive Officer of Palama Holdings. [i] Experts have advice on what it takes to bring businesses back to their peak level pre-pandemic. Tip number one: moving inventory is the key to any sort of success during this pandemic in regards to the food industry. [i]
To keep food moving through its warehouses, Palama Holdings, holds three sales weekly out of its warehouse in Kapolei, HI and a few more monthly across Oahu, HI. Some of these involve area nonprofits and others are held solely as a way to get food in the hands of the public, not to be wasted and thrown away. [i]
“The response has been amazing,” McDonald said. “We have a drive-thru, no-touch system, and food is reasonably priced.” [i]
US meat giant Smithfield Foods has spent a whopping $350M on preventative measures to battle COVID-19, with an overall loss of $72M in Q2 with expectations of performance to rebound in the fall as costs associated with COVID declining as the fall months continue. [ii] Aryzta, a Swiss-Irish bakery group, reported that the company’s revenues were down 23% in June, and 36% in May. The group said sales are gradually improving as we make our through August, but they are still facing many long-term effects from the pandemic this year.
Experts sat down with large restaurant food chain owners and got insight to what it’s been like for them to continue operating during this scary unknown time. Leaders were asked if restaurants should have been better prepared for the global pandemic. “Do you really think anyone could have been prepared for this?” RJ Melman, president of Lettuce Entertainment You Enterprises and creator and developer of more than 13 restaurant concepts, responded. “A lot of our dining rooms have zero sales. I don’t think there are many businesses in general that have a plan for zero sales. It’s not that we’re not prepared for not having business due to an emergency. We have business interruption insurance for things like fires, but no one could have planned for an entire industry being shut down for months at a time.” [iii]
Although restaurants have been struggling since March, fortunately numbers might be beginning to go up. Keith Pascal, former Chief Concept Officer of Panera Bread, says he’s seeing numbers increase incrementally each week as more of the store’s locations implement creative ways to drive traffic to stores such as digital access, new offerings on each store’s menus, and curbside pickup with contactless payment. [iii] Inventory is one of the biggest issues that restaurants are facing – tracking inventory, anticipating inventory orders, resupplying as more people are starting to get back out and go out to eat, etc. How can restaurants look out for suppliers while also make sure they have everything they need to be successful? [iii]
While restaurants are attempting to reopen, many things will be different when this happens. For example, floor plans will be rearranged for social distancing, one-way entrances and exits to the building, packs of necessities like condiments, napkins, lids, straws, etc. given to each customer upon ordering, expanding outdoor seating, mobile device ordering and payment, and much more.
“Although necessary, protocols alone will likely not be sufficient to enable restaurants to meet the most important prerequisite of successful reopening—restoration of customer confidence and trust while maintaining the hospitality that is an essential part of the restaurant experience.” [iii]
There are still many battles ahead as businesses fight to stay open and stay operating, but with the help of the community, and companies like Rogers handling all electrical, lighting, HVAC and Plumbing restaurants believe they can come back. It’s up to consumers and the government to determine the pace of how businesses get back to success. Head on over to our blog to read more industry updates.