COVID-19 has tanked economies globally and upended the stability of almost all sectors. One such sector is the food industry be it restaurants or grocers. With everything coming to a halt and people taking precautions and avoiding public spaces, restaurants, cafes, eateries, and food markets have been severely affected. However, as most spheres of modern life have adapted to a new normal, so too have people’s eating habits with take-outs, home deliveries, and eating at home becoming the new norm.
Tight restrictions have been placed on restaurants in UAE to ensure proper protocols are being followed to contain the virus. As home deliveries have become so common, food delivery services are now offering a contact-less option. Needless to say, delivery drivers have to wear masks and gloves at all times. In countries maintaining a policy of contact tracing, venues have to take the details of their customers so that those affected can be tracked and reached in case of an outbreak.
Rider gets ready to deliver parcel – Clint Egbert/Gulf News
Diets have also changed with people eating less fast food and switching over to healthier options at home. A survey conducted in Scotland found that a third of respondents reported eating healthy meals more often, with takeouts and dine-ins seeing a significant drop. In the UK the price of flour has gone up as more and more people are opting for baking at home. In the US orange juice sales have gone up reportedly by 38% compared to last year’s figures, as people buy more and more to bolster their immune system with vitamins.
During all of this restaurants have not only lost customer but also cut loses as tonnes and tonnes of food have gone to waste. Whether it be produce rotting, milk curdling, food stuff getting moldy and stale, all food items have a limited shelf life and restaurants rely on fresh products being served to customers right away.
Restaurants are giving incentives to attract customer but governments are also being forced to step in to save their respective food industries. The UK government launched a Eat Out to Help Out scheme which offered a 50 percent discount off the bill for people eating at venues that have registered for the program. The government ended up spending £522 million on the scheme that accomplished the goal of forcing people to go out but which also reportedly caused a spike in cases.
Restaurants, in their own part, have switched up their marketing strategy to focus on hygiene, proper practices, and protection from the Coronavirus. Huge discounts and deals have seen a surge as restaurant struggle to maintain customers. Marketers have also scrambled to improve their online presence and food ordering apps have also seen a surge.
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Restaurants are coming to terms with deliveries being the new norm but transition has not been as hard as it might have been if it were not for the increase in popularity of food ordering apps, with many restaurants already being partnered up or having a delivery system of their own. Other trends that had a niche market have also gained more traction like food kits which not only offer a healthy alternative but also mean that the food will be safe from infection.
Pakistan also saw lock-down restrictions being lifted last month with many government officials worried about an industry that is the source of livelihood of 10 million people. Secretary General Chaudhry Mohammad Farooq and Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar were in agreement on the importance of the restaurants and hospitality sector with Umar saying, “The hospitality sector, restaurants, cafes… a lot of people work in this sector and they were facing a lot of hardship.”