With online deliveries booked up weeks in advance, people across the UK who live in remote areas and vulnerable shoppers are struggling to get their hands on essential goods.
But with restaurants and leisure attractions across the UK closed due to the lockdown, wholesalers are rapidly changing their business model to try to stay afloat as sales collapse.
Mike Morgan, the managing director of Savona Foodservice, who usually supply the Eden Project, Peppa Pig World, Oxford University, Exeter Airport, the Brakspear pub group as well as a host of independent cafes and restaurants told Femail business has fallen 80 per cent after lockdown was enforced three weeks ago.
They have managed to claw back a five per cent increase by selling to the public, with a big increase in sales of pasta, tinned tomatoes and flour, with many offering next day delivery.
Meanwhile, Sezer Ozkul, Chief Products Officer at JJ Foodservice said that demand has increased 400 per cent.
‘We have always been open to the general-public but only five per cent of our customer base were households. No one really knew about us. We used to refer to ourselves as the ‘best kept secret.’
Households are turning to wholesalers to pick up essentials like toilet roll, pasta, and bread as supermarket shelves are stripped bare as panic buyers hoard goods. Pictured are workers at Natoora wholesaler stacking shelves
The wholesalers now selling direct to the public
Order online for next day delivery – depending on your location
The business who supplied Wasabi, You Me Sushi and schools are also now selling to the public.
Sezer Ozkul, Chief Products Officer told FEMAIL: ‘Our business literally changed overnight – on March 21st we had an emergency strategy meeting.
‘By the end of the day, our Next Day Home Delivery Service was live, offering next day deliveries for orders placed by 9pm with a minimum order of just £79.
‘We advertised this via a social media and the response has been extremely positive – we are taking on new customers every day and the messages to our customers services team have increased 400 per cent as more people are making inquiries about setting up a new account.
‘This will probably come as no surprise, but our toilet roll sales increased by 150 per cent – we were selling up to five containers more per week. Pasta, hand wash and bizarrely fresh chicken sales also went up significantly. To better support households, we are increasing our range of smaller pack sizes for essential household groceries such as cheese, tea bags, fresh vegetables and fruits.
ESSENTIALS AVAILABLE TO ORDER
Kingsmill Great Everyday Soft White Bread (Medium)-1x800g – from 99p
Lakeland Salted Butter 4x250g – from £4.99
Fermipan Instant Yeast (Single Packets)-1x500g – from £3.49
Red Kidney Beans 6x800g – from £5.99
PG Tips Tagged Tea Bags-1×100 – from £3.99
Wright`s Plain Flour-5×1.5kg – from £4.99
Fresh Whole Milk-(Blue Cap)-1x2L – from 99p
Nestle Shreddies (Single) 1x415g – from £.249
Fresh Avocados-1×6 – from £9.99
Free Range Medium Eggs (Size 3)-1×60 – from £9.99
Order over the phone or by email for next day delivery in London and delivery within a few days across the South East
Darren Labbett the managing director of Woods Foodservice said: ‘We bought in fresh fruit, vegetables, salad and fresh meat boxes to be able to offer a one stop shop, these are very popular. However, it seems that everybody wants toilet rolls and pasta. Luckily we have plenty of both,’ Mr Labbett explained.
He added that they’ve seen sales of bread flour and yeast shoot up, as people try and make their own bread and cakes at home.
‘As our turnover increases we are able to gradually ask furloughed staff to come back to ensure we keep up with demand.’
ESSENTIALS AVAILABLE TO ORDER
Fruit, veg and salad
Medium veg box
Large veg box
Medium fruit box
Medium salad box
Stealth Fries –
Kingsmill Sliced White
Part Baked Croissants
Part Baked Bread
Tiptree jams & marmalade
Medium Fresh Meat Box
Large Fresh Meat Box
Large Fresh Meat Box with
Gluten Free sausages.
Kosher Fresh Meat box
Halal Fresh Meat Box
Blackcurrant Squash Large
Granola Rude Health
English Breakfast Tea bags
Heinz Tomato Ketchup
Plain Flour 1.5kg
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Heinz Spaghetti Hoops
Heinz Baked Beans
Dunns Food and Drink
Order online or via the app for deliveries across Scotland
Julie Dunn told FEMAIL her family run business lost 70 per cent of business when the lockdown hit.
The company, supply the prestigious Gleneagles golf course as well as DiMaggios, Montpeiirs and Hawksmoor restaurants.
Ms Dunn said people are buying cleaning materials and toilet rolls, bread, milk, eggs, sugar, flour, butter, pasta, and wine but their luxury food items are not being purchased.
‘We have been surprised by the number of people interested in catering pack sizes – so – perfectly happy to take 16kg of flour in order to bake for their neighbours. Nice community spirit.
‘Although most callers are looking for the staples just now, possibly once we are all more used to life in isolation, home cooking will be a pleasant time filler for the family which is why we are posting recipe ideas every day through social media because with 6,500 lines available it is most probable that the home cooks can achieve a global kitchen through Dunns.’
ESSENTIALS AVAILABLE TO ORDER
Sauces and stock
Dolimo tomato and basil sauce
Knorr Arrabiata sauce
Balti curry sauce
Jalfrezi curry sauce
Tikka Masala curry sauce
Sweet chilli sauce
Red curry paste
Green curry paste
Pasta, rice and grains
Long grain rice
Cooking wine, cider, and brandy
Kelloggs Coco pops
Kelloggs Crunchy Granola
Kelloggs Rice Crispies
Kelloggs Bran Flakes
Cheese and vegan cheese
Order online for next day delivery, depending on location, or click and collect
Bidfood one of the UK’s largest foodservice providers was forced to change its business model overnight to support the growing demand for supplies during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Earlier this month, Bidfood and Brakes announced they would be joining forces to support a new government initiative to ensure that vital food supplies reach the country’s most vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis.
The initiative sees the two companies working together to deliver potentially hundreds of thousands of weekly care packages across the country to people at high risk from the virus, who are not able to get easy access to food.
ESSENTIALS AVAILABLE TO ORDER
Fruit and vegetables
Range of fresh fruit
Range of fresh vegetables
Chips and fries
Pate and terrines
Olives and antipasti
Dairy and eggs
Traditional and speciality bread
Pannini, Ciabatta Focaccia
Naan, pitta, flatbread and tortillas
Cakes and bakes
Wine, beer, cider and spirits
Sports and energy drinks
Adult soft drinks
Fruit juice and smoothies
Squashes and cordial
Meat and fish
Breaded and butter fish
Prawns and shellfish
Preserves, honeys and spreads
Baking ingredients and desserts
Gravy, bouillon and stock
Pulses, rice, noodles and pasta
Condiments and sauces
Herbs, spices and oils
Pancakes and crepes
Order online for delivery across the North West
Rob Coupe, director of Oncore foodservices, said the supplier set up a delivery service through DPD to selling meat boxes and deli boxes to customers.
The Preston-based supplier usually sell to care homes, restaurants, pubs, nurseries, hotels, and work canteens.
Sales have gone up about 10 per cent since introducing Farm2Fork, which sends deli boxes to people’s homes.
Volcano Coffee Works
Order online for home delivery
Emma Loisel, is co-founder and chair, of Volcano Coffee Works, which supplied more than 350 cafes, restaurants and hotels across the UK and in Paris.
‘We already sold direct to consumer, but it was less than 2 per cent of our overall revenue. Online sales via our website have grown by 680 per cent in three weeks – but it’s still less than 10 per cent of our revenues before Covid-19,’ she said.
‘Consumers buying for home use order small quantities – either a couple of 200kg bags or a 1 kg bag.
‘Packing and posting a much higher quantity of orders is labour intensive and time consuming, we are having to quickly establish new working practices and processes to make sure we can fill these orders. If consumers could do one order for their coffee needs for the next few weeks that will help us and Royal Mail keep up.’
However, demand from households may not be enough to keep businesses afloat.
Mr Morgan told FEMAIL: ‘Food service wholesalers are a credit based industry – whereas retails is effectively cash – we have debt that businesses cannot settle as they are now closed and our suppliers are expecting payment.
‘We have warehouses full of stock that are typically not selling due to the size of the product – like 2.5kg tins of beans, tomatoes, 10kg of chips -– they are geared for caterers – who are now shut.
‘Half our customers who owe money are no longer there and most will not come back and never pay.
With their sales down 75 per cent, Mr Morgan fears many will struggle to stay open, which could put the most vulnerable at risk.
‘The care homes that we supply (about 200 for Savona, but thousands are served by our industry) rely upon us – however the food service business model is not a dedicated logistics model.
Food wholesalers have turned to the public to sell their stock after losing millions in revenue overnight due to the coronavirus lockdown closing down restaurants and shops nationwide. Pictured is a market worker packing bag in the closed Borough Market where suppliers are donating good to the NHS
‘We rely on the 75 per cent of the business we’ve lost to make the numbers stack up.
‘Without the rest of our customer base, we are actually worse off by continuing to trade than we would be by closing the doors completely.
Huge overheads – including a fleet of delivery vehicles worth £100,000 each – mean many companies are struggling to stay afloat amid the crisis, Mr Morgan explained.
‘There is a real risk that supply to the care sector will cease at a time when they need us the most. Please be aware that the food service industry works on a net margin of about two per cent – so there is almost nothing for us to play with. The industry needs grants and support.
‘Several smaller care homes have move to us, because they cannot get the goods from the retailers, either because of quantity limits or product availability
Pictured are empty shelves in Waitrose in Sheffield. Many households are turning to wholesalers after panic buyers hoarded goods in many supermarket
‘This is a traumatic time for the food and drinks supply chain’