04 May 2020, 13:34 PM
  • The voice of Kent food and drink Produced in Kent shares how its members have adapted to life in lockdown
Kent stands together against Coronavirus

With pressure on the food and drink industry at an all time high, and many businesses struggling with limiting lockdown measures, it’s reassuring to see the country of Kent pulling together and thriving during such an uncertain situation. Produced in Kent, a trade organisation that supports food, drink and craft businesses across the county, have reported that many local businesses are devising innovative methods to keep serving their customers throughout these unprecedented times.

“The coming together of the Kent community has been incredible,” said Floortje Hoette, chief executive of Produced in Kent. “We’ve seen an enormous rise in the support for our local shops and producers. Many people are swapping to local food suppliers and for some it’s the first time they’ve tried shopping locally.”

A traditional visit to a farmers market isn’t an option at the moment, but retailers in Kent have taken advantage of some clever methods to keep sales flowing. Shipbourne Farmers Market has created a ‘drive thru’ system, seeing over 150 orders in the first week of operation alone. Other stallholders in the region, such as regulars from West Malling and Tonbridge farmers markets, have taken a more direct approach, offering bespoke deliveries straight to your door.

Restaurants and takeaways are making the most of the delivery market, too. Residents can get their hands on a classic pub meal from Elite Pubs from Wednesday to Sunday, thanks to a new and improved takeaway menu. A crisp, cold pint isn’t out of the question, either, and there are plenty of new brews to try out. “We’ve seen new launches from Kentish Pip with its limited edition 2017 harvest cider, Old Dairy launched a Spring top 4% ABV Pale Ale this month, Nim’s has released new Share Bags and Solley’s has launched a lower fat range of flavours, all available for home delivery. It’s a remarkable achievement in the current climate,” Floortje said.

Aside from the changes in how they provide and sell produce, retailers have been looking out for their customer’s well being, too. From creating wellness videos and supporting vulnerable members of the community, to utilising machinery to produce hand sanitiser, the members of Produced in Kent have shown true dedication to their patrons.

Floortje commended the food and drink businesses of Kent on their generosity during this time: “We’ve been amazed at the sheer quantity of our members looking for ways to support NHS workers, there’s too many to name them all. Just last week Indian chef Paul Babra made meal deliveries to Margate Hospital, and Watts Farms offered a lorry load of essential items to NHS staff. Staff at The Pig-at-Bridge Place have started delivering an abundance of produce to the doorsteps of NHS workers, the high risk and the vulnerable, which happens to include the wild residents of the nearby Gorilla Sanctuary at Howlett’s Wild Animal Park!”

For more information on local food and drink businesses in Kent, visit helpkentbuylocal.co.uk