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Despite the numerous challenges that COVID-19 has thrown at the food industry, a recent survey has revealed that a high number of small, diverse food businesses were able to stay open for business and adapt as needed.
Sustain’s Food Coops Network and London Food Link surveyed 100 good food enterprises to find out how they adapted to lockdown and social distancing measures, as well as to gather insight on the challenges that local good food enterprises were facing during COVID-19.
The snapshot survey, which took place between 6th April and 8th May 2020, surveyed a range of enterprises, including cafés, producers, shops, markets and buying groups. Amongst its key findings, the report revealed that many good food enterprises are still open for business and have adapted to the changes; many reported supply chain challenges, whilst admitting that finances, staff safety and logistics have made operations more difficult. An overall sense of uncertainty, particularly income fluctuation, have also made it challenging to plan for the future. Many also cited networks as helping to find solutions.
Tom Steele of Kentish Town Box Scheme, said: “Being able to be small and nimble and people-powered has worked to our advantage at this time. It’s vital that local and national governments support sustainable small businesses with affordable rents, enabling finance and supportive regulation.”
As part of the survey, respondents also suggested ways in which Sustain could help. Following this, Sustain has published a report with further information and guidance for local enterprises, and hopes to influence local and national Government to support these supply chains and enterprises to help rebuild local economies as restrictions begin to ease. Highlighted actions include working with councils to develop Good Food Retail plans, and to provide opportunities for good food enterprises to thrive.
“We think it is critical that small, diverse food enterprises are seen and heard as part of local economic recovery plans that are being developed following lockdown,” Ben Reynolds, deputy CEO of Sustain, said. “These businesses have shown their economic worth time and time again, and now have demonstrated how resilient and adaptable they can be in times of emergency and recovery.”