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There are reports of empty supermarket shelves, panic buying from consumers and stockpiling across the UK, and although cases of Covid-19 in Britain are relatively low, the public and businesses are taking no chances. Some firms based in Italy are ramping up exportation of pasta, cheese and coffee products to the UK. “We’ve taken the decision to produce as much as we can before it goes into lockdown,” Walter Zanre, UK MD of Filippo Berio told The Grocer – while Simon Fry, marketing director at RH Amar informed Speciality Food, “We are increasing shipments of Italian produce – including tomatoes – into our warehouses so that we have surplus stock in case of any disruption to supplies.” Bernstein Research has predicted that Coronavirus will lower overall operating profits by £1.2 billion.
Meanwhile, consumers are increasingly opting to shop online. The Telegraph has reported that multiples have seen a surge of online purchases, and in early March healthy recipe box service Mindful Chef noted a sales increase of 165%. Tim Lee, CEO of Mindful Chef commented: “The timing of this increase coincides with news from other countries affected by the Coronavirus reporting an impact on the online food delivery sector. At this stage, we can only assume this is the start of something similar happening in the UK, as we see increased consumer demand for online food services that offer home delivery.”
Will Broome, CEO at Ubamarket said of the increased demand for e-commerce: “The retailer that comes out on top will be the one who can not only make sure that the products in demand are fully stocked and available, but who can maintain a positive, efficient and convenient shopping experience for customers. In a time when shoppers could simply buy their groceries online, it is of paramount importance that retailers make the in-store experience as attractive and easy as possible.”