04 May 2020, 10:24 AM
  • No-one saw this coming. Not on this scale. We were all watching the daily news and wondering what the impact on business might be, but as March continued and Covid 19 cases rose, orders started to be cancelled and then the full scale of the impact hit, says Sam Brower of Quattro Foods
“If we pull together, we will continue to achieve great things”

Quattro Foods is a bespoke developer of recipes, predominantly for restaurant retail. Over 90% of our business is within the hospitality sector. After 20th of March this year, we were left with cancelled orders, all of which had been produced to order against bespoke recipes. Our fridges and freezers were filled to capacity and production almost ground to a halt.  Operators stopped paying their bills and businesses, like our, have been left to borrow from banks to cover this payment gap.

Quattro has a framework agreement with NHS Wales, so felt it was important we try to remain operational. We also have two small retail contracts; if we ceased to manufacture for the brand owners, we knew the devastating impact this would have on their brands and listings in the major multiples.

Whilst we were trying to figure out what to do to keep going (we still are!), we put our heads together and decided, at the very least, we could use our manufacturing expertise to help feed vulnerable people in the local community, not least to minimise waste at a time when so many vulnerable people were struggling to get sufficient food to feed themselves and their families.

After contacting Portsmouth County Council, to find out who the local charities were, we worked with other businesses to source ingredients to start cooking. Fresh Direct, Bicester, delivered lots of vegetables and dairy produce; we turned these into pasta sauces and vegetable curries, adding a few tonnes of porridge we’d made for customers that was going to be wasted and we have been distributing these through The Hive and Pompey in the Community. These are fantastic charities, supporting many vulnerable groups as well as the NHS.

Solent Butchers, Portsmouth, delivered smoked hams to us, which, with ingredients from our stock, we turned into soup.

Then More Foods, Chichester stepped in and donated hundreds of cakes; a sweet treat for local people.

As food shelf life continues to erode, we’ve donated all of our pasta and rice to the local charities. This week, with the addition of a small donation from Morrisons and some ingredients left from pre-Covid product development, we’ll be making fruit compotes and then we’ll start to work through the frozen stock, donating soups and pasta sauces originally produced for restaurant chain customers.
We are struggling and we don’t know what the other side of this will look like, but we remain focused on what we do best and the guys and girls here are delighted to be putting their skills to a good cause. It just makes everything seem a little more worthwhile and actually makes us smile. I never cease to be amazed at what Team Quattro achieve, no matter what we’re faced with and I am immensely proud to be part of this team.

Our thoughts are with all the small businesses struggling through this; we will get through and we will remain strong and, if we pull together, we will continue to achieve great things.