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With the coronavirus outbreak changing the way consumers are shopping, local businesses across the fine food and drinks sector are having to develop innovative ways of reaching their customers in order to maintain and grow their sales.
One farm shop in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, is benefiting from a high-tech upgrade made back in 2018. The Stephen family, which runs Thorneybank Farm Shop, invested in a state-of-the-art vending machine two years ago in a modern-day twist on an honesty box by the side of the road. The self-service vending machine is stocked with meat, fresh vegetables and other local produce, as well as home baked goods.
On 24 March, Thorneybank Farm Shop announced on its Facebook page that in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the shop would remain open but unmanned and hand sanitiser would be provided for use before and after operating the machines. The simple and hygienic system has proved successful at a time when consumers are looking to reduce their contact with others: sales have risen fivefold, according to a report in The Guardian.
Elsewhere, farm shops have been quick to adapt to the challenging operating conditions by introducing delivery systems in as little as 24 hours. For those struggling to operate their own deliveries, online platforms have been developed to support local farmers, fishers and independent shops by helping them reach customers with deliveries throughout the lockdown.
Small fishing businesses to sell to local communities
England’s fishing businesses have struggled amid the coronavirus outbreak as the majority of the fish they catch is typically exported. On 17 April, the Government announced a £10 million fund for England’s fishing sector, including £1 million for supporting projects to assist fisheries to find new ways to market and sell their catch in their local communities, such as delivery schemes for freshly caught fish.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay MP said: “Fishing is at the heart of many of England’s coastal communities – providing local jobs as well as valued produce to their communities and through exports around the world. Given the loss of trade particularly to restaurants as a result of Covid-19, this support will help fishing businesses weather the current challenges they face, and facilitate new growth in retail markets through innovative local distribution.”
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