The pandemic affected all businesses across all sectors. Numerous establishments were forced to shut their doors and reduce their workforce. However, the food industry was essential during the pandemic. Groceries, restaurants, cafes, and bars were all forced to pivot their business models to develop new ways to serve the market’s demands. Unlike other sectors, the food industry retained the market’s demand.
Their difficulties lay in figuring out how to efficiently and safely operate to cater to consumers. A mix of digital pursuits and new avenues for operations have helped them come through the pandemic better equipped to adapt to any future changes due to the pandemic.
As we move into the new normal, we see other sectors follow in their footsteps to maintain their market share. To better understand the different ways the food industry has managed to cope with the pandemic, let’s look at how it’s affected specific businesses.
Being stuck indoors for the better part of a year was made all the more difficult by having to meticulously plan your grocery trips to minimize your exposure to the outside world. Grocery stores became a lifeline to the majority of people. It was the only time we were able to go outside and have minimal social interactions.
Amidst the pandemic, however, grocery trips were limited to a certain number of people in the store, and if you weren’t willing to wait in line, you’d be stuck without your groceries. Third-party app services became popular in the market after having a personal shopper buy your groceries instead. Chain supermarkets quickly developed similar services to place your order online and have it delivered straight to your door.
Food establishments also had similar services like groceries. Wherein you could order from your favorite restaurants and have the meals delivered to you. For those of us who didn’t quite master the skill of cooking, this was a daily go-to. Due to schools being closed, more households had to balance working from home and childcare responsibilities, leaving little time for cooking homemade meals. This wasn’t the only way restaurants adapted to the difficulties presented by the pandemic.
Several restaurants chose to ditch rent costs by going mobile. Food trucks became extremely popular as they reduced overhead costs but maintained the same suppliers for raw materials. Trucks located in previously busy business districts moved to suburban areas to cater to a different market. Mobility allowed them to change locations according to market demands.
Cafes and bars
Local cafes and bars were particularly affected by the pandemic. As a vast majority of them closed down, others chose to embrace digitalization and e-commerce avenues to remain operational. Smaller coffee shops established more robust online presences and ordering systems, partnered with third-party delivery services, and were able to navigate the harsh landscape during the pandemic. We saw an increase in support for local businesses as patrons realized that smaller establishments would find it more challenging adjusting to the lockdown orders.
Craft breweries known for using different ingredients like Citra hops for unique blends and other beer offerings also went the e-commerce route. As more people were stuck at home to unwind, alcoholic beverages became increasingly popular. Breweries that previously offered tasting menus on-site were forced to consider other avenues for sales.
The pandemic caused individuals to be more conscious of both their physical and mental health. Spending copious amounts of time indoors and missing out on opportunities to exercise can cause fatigue and sluggishness. Even people who weren’t regularly going to the gym found out just how much of an impact their morning walk or taking the stair had on their physical health.
The focus on our health caused healthier food options to increase in popularity. Meal plans that offered to send you a bulk of healthy meals for an extended period became the trend. It meant you weren’t cooking, getting groceries, or ordering in as much. This isn’t to say that staple comfort food wasn’t prevalent during the pandemic, but various restaurants started offering vegetarian and vegan options to entice more customers.
The food industry continues to go through changes as we take a closer look at the long-term effects of the pandemic. However, one thing that seems like it isn’t going to change is the integration of digitalization and technology. Numerous applications and online services are still in development, focusing on providing businesses with other avenues for streamlining their new business processes.