It is hard to remember a time when our industry has changed so fast, so quickly. The impact of the Coronavirus is there at every level of the value chain in food. Every aspect of every food business has been impacted. In my conversations with many people, it is the uncertainty that is the biggest challenge. They can figure out how to give people the physical distance they need and they are already looking for alternative sources of supply if they are concerned. The questions about the length of the impact and the depth of the change are tough to answer. Unfortunately I do not have the answers. What I have been trying to help people with is how to react in the situation we are in and the balance between short term and long term solutions. SKUFood members we will be having a cooler talk Friday April 3rd at 2 pm Atlantic (1 PM Eastern) where we can have a conversation about what is happening and I can answer specific questions to help your business. This is for SKUFood members only and we will send out a separate link.
Here is a summary of the response from some of the different food retailers in Canada. I might have missed some and I am always interested to learn more so I welcome your insights. Thank you to Stewart Samuel from IGD Retail Analysis who compiled a list that I shared on Linkedin. All of the stores have made changes to the shopping experience to protect employees and consumers. These changes have happened very quickly and trust me it is not easy to implement these types of changes when none were planned.
Retailers have been communicating with consumers through loyalty program platforms and you have to give credit to the leaders for being the face during these challenging times. My list might be missing some items and perhaps you have heard of other local initiatives. I also know there are suppliers across the industry making changes in their operations and rewarding their employees. When you are talking to your customers mention their reaction and let them know what you are doing in your business.
The food industry response is an example of leadership. Honestly it is disappointing to see some other sectors in this country sit on their hands. Financial institutions and telecommunications come to mind. Huge industries, that are more concerned about reducing their risk and watching from the sidelines. Perhaps we will see more disruptive change to force them to be part of the solution.
We also have to keep looking to the future and some of the other trends in the industry. I am excited to be part of the Go To Market webinar series with Perennia. Next Thursday April 9th we will be talking about how to select a distributor and/or a broker. These are great sessions packed with lots of information to help your food and beverage business.
I am always interested in what you are doing to react to the challenges we face. There are so many heart warming stories to share so please let me know and if you are ok with me sharing your stories and initiatives. I would like to dedicate the space next week to some of the great things happening with suppliers. We have to face reality but it is also nice to hear the good news that comes with challenges. Send me your stories at email@example.com or give me a call at (902) 489-2900.