The food industry is one of the most important industries in all of the economy. We’ve been hit hard by the Coronavirus, but we cannot accept defeat. Together, we are responsible for people’s health, wellbeing and even happiness. It is our job to make sure we are doing our part to keep the food industry on pace and drive consumption even during this tough time. Hear Kevin’s thoughts on how you can help keep your employees safe while making a positive impact on your customers’ businesses.
What’s new in food? Well, the Coronavirus is here and everybody’s concerned and everybody’s trying to figure out what to do and everybody’s reacting, in some cases overreacting, and it’s having a huge impact on the food industry. So let’s take a look at that today and kind of understand what’s happening. First of all, trade shows are being canceled. Expo West, Boston Seafood Show. People looking at others along the way. Some, like the Pizza Expo said, “Yes, we’re still in this thing together. We’re going to go forward with our show and make the best of the situation.” Other things are happening, like people are eating out less at restaurants. What does that mean? I know they don’t want to contract the Coronavirus, but there’s an impact in terms of waitstaff and how they can make money or not make money. There’s an impact on customers and how much money they’re making.
There’s an impact on back of house, front of house and everything in between. And then there’s travel bans on top of that, travel bans from companies that have impacts on airlines and hotels and restaurants and all points in between including convenience stores. And if you’re a food company and you’ve implemented a travel ban because you think it’s in the best interest of your employees, I commend you for that. That’s a great thing. But you also need to consider, what’s the impact on your customer? And if you’re reducing consumption for your customer, what are you doing to increase consumption for your customer at the same time? So, that’s a big thing you need to consider along the way. And if commercial’s being hit hard, non-commercial food service is being hit even harder. Consider places like senior living and longterm healthcare where people are the most at risk. What do those people do? What happens if we need to start sending people home or closing those facilities off to make sure they’re not there?
C&U’s already announced massive closures where people are going home. A lot of those places only make money on their board plans. If those students aren’t eating from those board plans or don’t order the board plans, what’s the impact on their business as you move forward? Stadiums that are closed means no beer, no hot dogs, no consumption. What’s the impact longer term on those and the employees who work at those? And K-12 is probably one of the most interesting cases of all. I’ve seen multiple postings today on K-12 about what happens if our school closes, how do we make sure that we can get our food, make sure we’re cooking food, get that food out to students? Who can help us prepare food, who can help us deliver food? So there are questions everywhere.
So here’s kind of my viewpoint on this is the food industry is one of the most important industries in all of our economy, right? Not only do we drive the economy in so many ways on so many different levels, from jobs to consumption, to import, exports, and everything in between, but we are responsible for people’s health, people’s wellbeing, people’s happiness. And so even in a tough time like this, it’s our job to drive that and make sure that we are taking and doing our part to continue to do those things. So I’m challenging you guys in the food industry to ask yourselves questions in terms of what am I doing to make sure that I’m keeping the food service industry on pace? If I’ve implemented a travel ban, maybe I should be ordering in food all month from different customers, McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, local restaurants, a convenient store to make sure that I’m driving consumption for my customers as much as I’m protecting my employees.
Have I reached out to my non-commercial K-12 customers to see how I can help them in this situation? Maybe I need to deliver packaging solutions. Maybe I need to help get some of my people delivering meals around neighborhoods. Have I reached out to healthcare to understand what’s happening there and talk to Aramark, Compass, Food Buy, to understand what’s going on in those spaces? My point to you is while we’re kind of understanding what’s happening, we need to understand how can we be the most proactive voice in all the industries out there to make sure that food is stepping up and here to help. We are the optimists, we are the dreamers, we’re the doers, we’re the ones responsible for making sure that everybody else knows everything’s going to be all right. So I’m looking at you directly food service world and I’m saying, let’s keep our heads up. Let’s keep our chins up. Let’s smile. Let’s make sure we’re doing our parts and let’s drive the economy forward while we’re making sure we’re taking care of everybody.
Let’s make sure they know how safe our restaurants are, how clean our restaurant are, how great a job we’ve been doing, 24/7, 365, for years, and then let’s show off how we’re making sure that we’re on top of the Coronavirus situation. So what’s new in food? Opportunity, your opportunity to step up and help in a situation and in a time where people are looking for help and looking for answers. And I’m looking at you, the food industry, saying, let’s do our part. Let’s not get crazy. Let’s make sure that we are taking care of our customers as much as we are taking care of our employees. And that’s what’s new in food.