Information regarding COVID-19 is fluid. As we attempt to stay abreast of information and share with you, know that a lot of it changes on a daily basis. Your business health is of great importance, so we will continue to curate what we learn, and share feedback and conversation that we hear.
Key Food Industry Initiatives
Everyone in farm, food, and drink businesses are impacted by this pandemic, and people are collectively conversing to ease the pain and find work-arounds. Through discussions with industry players, we are continuing to share those discussion topics and ideas so that you can learn more and determine how they might apply to your business.
We are in conversations with the Ministry of Agriculture and Small Scale Food Processor Association (SSFPA) to share what we’re hearing from our clients and industry connections. So we can all evaluate a course of action, please tell us about your experiences, concerns, and challenges, and what creative solutions are being suggested.
BC Association of Farmers’ Markets
Many farmers’ markets are being forced to close or significantly change their operating model as per the Ministry of Agriculture’s press release. So many local businesses rely on these markets as a dominant or part-time sales channel. These markets can still be considered a safe and viable way to get local, fresh food to the consumer while adhering to social distancing and COVID-19 food safety protocols.
The market challenge has spurred some creative ideas to set up virtual farm markets and potential delivery services. One volunteer service in the Columbia Valley and East Kootenays, was set up to match people who are quarantined and a volunteer to deliver their food. A similar model could be used for farmers’ markets.
Business Community Perspectives
As we struggle to get food to market, there are interesting conversations and creative ideas coming out of the sector. Everybody has a different consequence as a result of the virus situation, different priorities, and different objectives. Following are some perspectives from the field. What are you experiencing or hearing about?
Farmers & Growers
- A Farmer has another job that he’s not going to right now, and he thinks he can double his farm business because he can produce more because he’s not working at the other job
- Some Farmers are considering not farming at all this year, as the risk is felt to be too high and they are unsure in their ability or capacity to break down barriers to get food to consumers
- Greenhouse operators have staffing issues because it’s difficult to apply social distancing
- Staffing is also an issue because of social distancing requirements
- They are struggling as their facility or production process doesn’t allow for COVID-19 protocols. So, those owners are taking it on themselves and being overworked to try to get food to market.
- Farmer – “I usually do deliveries myself but may use volunteers to drive and deliver product to move more food.”
- People are trying to connect and collaborate with other food businesses looking to mitigate risk yet still deliver product – i.e. “I’ll deliver our collective foods this Tuesday, and you guys do it on Thursday.”
- These new or expanded networks can provide improvements for the future, seeing the challenge and then the opportunity.
At Farm Food Drink Inc., we’ll do our best to continue to curate, research, and filter info to share with you. At the end of the day, we want to support good people doing good things. That means you.
We want to hear from you, and gather info, and share resources as best we can, but also know info changes constantly. You can find resources and news links on our COVID-19 Impacts webpage, and other stories and news on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The whole food sector needs support to survive and be sustainable, at many levels. How can we support you and your business?
We’re evaluating a series of webinars or similar media to share business information and foster discussion on potential solutions. Please contact us with your ideas. What would you like to learn about?
Initial topic ideas:
- Food processing safety – with our food scientist’s partners/team and food processing experts
- Distribution – creative solutions via collaboration, existing industry solutions
- Marketing – connecting with in-need consumers, continue to show your presence, position, and leadership
Your business is shifting, or perhaps is temporarily disabled. Do you have the capacity to delve into some much needed business or marketing planning? Farm Food Drink Inc. lives in and understands this sector. We get what you do. Contact us to start a conversation.
As you adjust to current conditions, know that you have support from us, from your colleagues, from other people in the industry, and we know that you are reaching out to support others.
Farm Food Drink Team